Hungary’s parliament passed Tuesday a law imposing strict restrictions on NGOs that receive foreign funding—a move that has been criticized by rights organizations as a crackdown on dissent.
The law, approved 130-40, requires groups receiving more than 24,000 euros annually ($26,000) in overseas funding to register as “foreign-supported” and disclose their foreign donors, or face closure. The legislation resembles a law passed in Russia in 2012, which requires NGOs receiving foreign funding to register as “foreign agents.”
Based on recommendations by the Venice Commission, the Council of Europe’s advisory board, the law will only require groups to list foreign donors who give more than $1,820 in funding. It will also allow NGOs to request removal from the registry if their foreign funding dips below $26,000 for two consecutive years. While the commission characterized certain aspects of the law as “excessive,” it also recognized its effort to pursue transparency as a “legitimate aim.”
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said the law aims at improving transparency and targeting money laundering and terrorism funding, but critics of the the new rule say it’s a move to silence and discredit civil society.