Hungary announces new law targeting migrant aid groups | News | DW | 17.01.2018

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Hungary announces new law targeting migrant aid groups

Prime Minister Orban's government will levy a tax on groups that receive foreign funding. The groups' foreign employees could also face expulsion. The move is part of Orban's so-called "Stop Soros Plan."

Hungarian Interior Secretary Sandor Pinter, on Wednesday, announced a new law to be proposed by Viktor Orban's right-wing nationalist government. The law would, among other things, put a 25 percent tax on civic migrant aid organizations that receive more than half of their funding from abroad.

The organizations would also be required to register with Hungarian courts and their foreign employees could face expulsion if the government should determine that they have aided "illegal" migration. Groups that fail to register would also face fines.

Read more: Hungary's Orban tells Germany: 'You wanted the migrants, we didn't'

Exemptions and restraining orders

Government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said religious groups like the Red Cross or those which distribute food would be exempted from the law's requirements, adding: "Giving assistance is not the same as actively taking part in someone crossing the border illegally."

Another aspect of the proposed law that has caused concern among rights groups is the government's stated desire to issue restraining orders barring citizens suspected of "organizing illegal migration" from getting closer than eight kilometers (4.97 miles) to any of Hungary's Schengen borders

Read more: Hate speech in the Hungarian election campaign

 Map of EU refugee quota commitments by country

'Stop Soros'

The law would be part of the government's so-called "Stop Soros Plan," named after Hungarian-born, Jewish-American billionaire philanthropist George Soros.

Soros, who has been a vocal critic of the prime minister, has been the target of a fierce propaganda campaign by Orban, who blames Soros for personally helping "illegal immigrants flood Europe," robbing it of its "Christian and national identities." Orban has never offered any evidence to substantiate his claim.

Read more: EU migrant quotas: Hungary's Viktor Orban vows to fight on

Trouble with the EU

Last year, Hungary passed a law requiring all organizations receiving more than €24,000 ($29,400) annually to register with Hungarian courts. Moreover, the law also requires such groups to prominently display the words "foreign organization" on all of their publications.

That law is currently the subject of a breach of contract dispute between Hungary and the European Union.

js/kms (AP/dpa)