Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Donors and Grant-makers condemn Hungary's actions against human rights donors and local human rights NGOs

 "We, as donor organisations committed to human rights and democratic values, would like to raise our voice in solidarity and to show our concern at recent events that appear to threaten the independence of Hungarian NGOs. Serious allegations made by government actors against well-established, respected Hungarian human rights and civil liberties NGOs raise serious doubts about the commitment of the Hungarian government to its obligations as a democratic government and a member of the European Union.

The exceptional dispatch of government auditors, in person, to three Hungarian civil society organizations that manage the disbursement of funds locally from the European Economic Area and Norway Grants, goes well beyond a disagreement about implementation.
The three members of the consortium — Autonomia Foundation, DemNet and Ökotárs — are well known for the promotion of democracy, defence of human rights and environmental work, as well as for their experience re-granting funds on behalf of other donors, including the European Union, USAID and, more recently, the EEA and Norway Grants. The audit is not only questioned by the organisations under Hungarian law; it is regarded by them as an act of intimidation. The leaking to the media of a list of recipient organizations, including some of the most reputable human rights and civil liberties groups in the country, accusing them of being “problematic” and “left-leaning”, is equally worrying and unfounded.
Human rights watchdogs and other NGOs have a crucially important role in democratic societies, and any political pressure on them, or any attempt to restrict their funding, is against democratic principles, rules and standards. International funding for this work is proof that they are protecting universal values and should not be hindered by governments. Since 2012, the EU recognises civil society as essential to the implementation of rights, and is committed to supporting an enabling environment for civil society, with EU governments required to remain “exemplary in ensuring respect for human rights”.

We hope that the Hungarian government refrains from any further political pressure and shelters its NGO sector from threats and interference. We also call on EU member states and institutions to remain vigilant towards any government pressures on civil society organizations, in particular on human rights and civil liberties watchdogs, which have a fundamental role to play in democracy in Hungary, as well as in every other EU member state”.
Chris Stone, President of the Open Society Foundations
Jordi Vaquer, Director of the Open Society Initiative for Europe
Fund for Global Human Rights
Sigrid Rausing, Founder, Sigrid Rausing Trust
Mama Cash
European Foundations Centre
David French, Director, Alexandria Trust
Amanda Sebesteyn, Member, Network for Social Change
Ise Bosch - Dreilinden
Barrow Cadbury Trust
Marjan Stoffers, Head of Programmes, Mensen met een Missie
The Calumus Foundation, Delaware, USA
Catherine Zennström, Co-Founder Zennström Philanthropies
International Human Rights Programme, Oak Foundation
Hilde Klok, Director, Koornzaayer Foundation
Rebecca Tinsley, Tinsley Charitable Trust
Atallah Kuttab, Founder & Chairman, SAANED for Philanthropy Advisory
Jo Andrews, Director, Ariadne - European Funders for Social Change and Human Rights

This statement has been issued by a number of grant-makers and donors who are members of the Ariadne, European Funders for Social Change and Human Rights.

For background information on this see here and here .

For further information: Contact: 07768946041