Head of state: János Áder
Head of government: Viktor Orbán

The government launched smear campaigns against several NGOs for alleged funding irregularities and ordered audits of their accounts. Roma continued to face discrimination in access to health care, housing, and by law enforcement agencies. The European Court of Human Rights ruled that the obligatory re-registration of religious organizations violated the right to freedom of religion.


In general elections in April, the ruling Fidesz party secured a two-thirds parliamentary majority with 45% of the vote. The OSCE criticized the government for amending electoral legislation and noted that this and other legislation, including the Constitution, had been amended using procedures that circumvented the requirement for public consultation and debate.

Freedom of association – NGOs

The government adopted an increasingly hostile attitude towards critical civil society groups and NGOs, which they accused of acting in the pay and interests of foreign governments.[1] In April 2014, the Chief of the Prime Minister's cabinet alleged that Norway Grants – a government-backed funding vehicle for social cohesion projects in 16 EU member states – was financing groups linked to opposition parties. The Norwegian government and the NGOs in question dismissed the allegations.

In June, the Prime Minister's Office ordered the Hungarian Government Control Office (KEHI) to carry out an audit of NGOs involved in distributing and receiving the European Economic Area (EEA)/Norway Grants. The Norwegian government and the NGOs in question strongly contested the legality of the audit, as the funds were not part of the Hungarian state budget and the authority to conduct or order audits of the grants resided with a Financial Mechanism Office in Brussels under bilateral agreements between Hungary and Norway.

In July, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights denounced the government's "stigmatizing rhetoric . . . questioning the legitimacy of NGOs". The Hungarian authorities continued with their allegations against NGOs. In a speech in July the Prime Minister referred to the NGOs involved with the Norway Grants as "paid political activists who are attempting to enforce foreign interests here in Hungary".

On 8 September, police raided the offices of Ökotárs and Demnet, two of the NGOs responsible for the distribution of the Norway Grants. Their files and computer servers were confiscated. The basis of the police investigation was reportedly allegations of mismanagement of the funds.[2]

Also in September, the KEHI initiated procedures to suspend the tax numbers of the four NGOs involved in the distribution of Norway Grants, alleging non-co-operation with the government-imposed audit. The NGOs denied the allegations.

In October, the KEHI released a report based on its audit, and announced it would seek criminal sanctions against several NGOs. In December, the suspension of the tax numbers entered into force in the case of at least one of the NGOs in question. The NGOs aimed to challenge the suspension in a court of law.

In July, the first instance court held that the spokesperson of the Fidesz party damaged the reputation of an NGO, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, when he claimed that it was paid by "American speculators . . . to attack the Hungarian government". The spokesperson appealed against the decision.

Discrimination – Roma

Roma were subjected to ethnic profiling and disproportionately targeted by the police for minor administrative offences. In September, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child noted that Roma continued to be denied health services, including emergency aid services, and were discriminated against by health practitioners.

About 450 residents of the predominantly Roma neighbourhood known as Numbered Streets, in the city of Miskolc, were put at risk of forced eviction and possible homelessness.[3] In May, the local government adopted a decree declaring the houses in the neighbourhood "old and inadequate" and announced that the tenancy agreements would be terminated. The municipality stated that "there was no place for slums" in the city and that its plans to demolish the buildings were supported by 35,000 individuals who signed the petition calling for an eviction. In August, the municipality evicted two families; approximately 50 other families were expecting eviction notices at the end of the year.

Freedom of religion

In September, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights upheld a decision that Hungary violated the right to freedom of religion when it adopted a law in 2011 that required all recognized churches and religious organizations to re-register. The law only allowed them to do so if they could prove that they had existed in Hungary for at least 20 years and had at least 1,000 members. The European Court ruled that the government should reach an agreement with the churches on the restoration of their registration and on just compensation for any damages.

Refugees and asylum-seekers

Asylum-seekers were frequently detained pending the determination of their claims. In a report published in May, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC) stated that 40% of male first-time asylum-seekers were detained and that the judicial review of asylum detention was ineffective. In September, the HHC reported that in 2013 it observed 262 cases of expelled or returned individuals trying to enter Hungary through the Serbian-Hungarian border.

In September, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child criticized Hungary for holding children seeking asylum and unaccompanied migrant children in administrative detention.

Torture and other ill-treatment

In May, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the possibility of life imprisonment without parole – a provision included in the Constitution of Hungary adopted in 2011 – amounted to an inhuman and degrading punishment.

1. Hungary: Stop targeting NGOs (EUR 27/002/2014),

2. Hungarian government must end its intimidation of NGOs (EUR 27/004/2014),

3. Hungary: Mayor of Miskolc must halt evictions of Roma (Press Release) (EUR 27/003/2014),

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