The Hungarian National Assembly [official website] on Tuesday passed a law [Budapest Beacon report] in a fast-track process which would require foreign universities to have campuses in Hungary and their home countries.This bill threatens to push out [NPR report] Central European University (CEU) [official website], which is a private institution in Hungary funded by George Soros [personal website] and is the only foreign university in Hungary that does not also have a campus in its home country. Under this legislation, CEU will have to open a campus in the United States by February 15, 2018 if it wishes to remain open. Proponents of the passed law insist that it was not made to target CEU and claim that it was designed generally to address the administrative shortcomings of foreign universities. This bill has been met with significant protest both within Hungary and internationally.
There have been concerns in the past over Prime Minister Orban’s government attacking democracy and human rights. Most recently, on March 7, Hungarian lawmakers passed [JURIST report] legislation which prevented those seeking asylum from moving about the country or leaving until their claims have been investigated. In November 2016, the Hungarian Parliament rejected an amendment [JURIST report] proposed by Prime Minister Orban which sought to block the settlement of refugees in Hungary. Earlier in November, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) urged [JURIST report] the EU to better address Hungary’s “sustained attack” on human rights and democracy since Prime Minister Viktor Orbán took office in 2010. At the beginning of Orbán’s term, Hungary adopted a new constitution called the Fundamental Law [text, pdf], which has been criticized for neglecting international human rights standards and fast-tracking political procedures in a manner that jeopardizes the country’s separation of powers.The FIDH’s accusations echo similar statements [JURIST report] made by Human Rights Watch (HRW) in 2015 against the EU for refusing to take action to address Hungary’s laws and practices regarding human rights. In 2013 the Hungarian government enacted constitutional amendments [JURIST report] after receiving criticism over its 2012 amendments. HRW and other human rights groups criticized [JURIST report] the changes as “largely cosmetic,” specifying a lack of resolve over issues surrounding human rights protections in the country.