The Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC) is a leading human rights organisation in Central Europe, existing since 1989. The HHC’s main activities focus on protecting the rule of law, on defending the rights of refugees and other foreigners in need of international protection, as well as on monitoring the human rights performance of law enforcement agencies and the judicial system. It pays particular attention to the rights of detainees and the effective enforcement of the right to defence and equality before the law.
Founded in 1989, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC) champions human rights protection in Hungary and Europe. We focus our efforts so that:
- the right to liberty and the right to be free from torture are upheld (including in criminal procedures and any form of detention);
- fair, rule-abiding law enforcement, fair criminal proceedings and humane prison conditions are ensured;
- everyone’s right to a fair trial and equality before the law is respected;
- the rule of law and the system of democratic checks and balances prevail, with active citizens and independent civil society willing and able to step up against human rights abuses;
- all migrants in need of international protection have real access to protection and the possibility of a dignified life in safety;
- potential change-makers are equipped with the necessary knowledge, skills and attitude to bring forward sustainable improvement in related human rights policies.
To achieve our goals, we apply a variety of methods that mutually support each other:
- Free legal assistance;
- Strategic litigation;
- Monitoring and research;
- Legislative advocacy;
- International advocacy;
- Awareness-raising and media work;
- International cooperation;
- Training, empowerment and capacity-building.
The Hungarian Helsinki Committee is an outstanding civil society organisation with a globally recognised reputation that champions human rights protection in Hungary and in Europe. We work towards a world in which everyone receives protection against human rights abuses. The HHC has become a crucial advocate for human rights and rule of law safeguards in Hungary for years. We are one of the few courageous actors that still manage to gain victories against undemocratic and inhuman government policies, and often the only audible voice challenging these measures.
Most issues we work on are not addressed by any other similar organisation in Hungary and are particularly unpopular within Hungarian society. These make the HHC’s activities indispensable for a well-functioning democratic society.
Our main values are:
- CREDIBILITY, based on sound knowledge and expertise in various fields of human rights, obtained through three decades of existence, recognised far beyond the NGO sector and far beyond Hungary (e.g., the HHC is one of the few NGOs regularly invited to train national authorities, judges and UN staff from around the world);
- ACCESSIBILITY: We believe that successful human rights work cannot only focus on experts; we strive to make our cause accessible and understandable for wider society through inclusive communication and constant dialogue;
- A REAL IMPACT, incarnated in clear and measurable impact indicators (e.g. major litigation victories with a pan-European impact, number of beneficiaries receiving protection or redress with our help);
- A DIVERSE TOOLKIT (legal assistance, strategic litigation, monitoring, advocacy, communication, training, empowerment, etc.) which mutually support each other and cover the full spectrum of human rights work;
- Civil courage: We show a role model of courageously standing up against ever increasing state pressure, demonstrating a convincing alternative to apathy and giving in;
- COOPERATION: We believe in the strength of standing together against anti-democratic trends; we closely cooperate with our civil society partners, avoiding any unnecessary competition and we actively support our less resourced allies;
- AN OUTSTANDING GLOBAL REPUTATION, incl. nine prestigious international human rights awards since 2017;
- A STRONG NETWORK of allies, partners and message multipliers, thus also an international ‘safety net’;
- RESILIENCE built under unprecedentedly strong political and media pressure since 2010;
- INNOVATION as an HHC ‘signature value’, based on various experiences from the past to be global pioneers to tackle emerging human rights issues (e.g. statelessness, plain language in criminal procedures, etc.);
- STABLE AND DIVERSE FUNDING STRUCTURE, independent from the government;
- STRATEGIC APPROACH, conscious planning and long-term vision.
Finance and Main Partners
The HHC is a financially sound and stable NGO, with a diverse donor base (as many as 19 different institutions provided us with support in 2020). Current income sources (percentages indicate data from 2019, the latest audited financial year at the time of writing): Private philanthropic foundations – 45.74% (OSF, Oak, SRT, EPIM, Fund for Global Human Rights, etc.); European Union – 24.45% (different schemes of the European Commission); United Nations – 15.08% (UNHCR Representation in Central Europe, UNHCR Global Learning and Development Centre, UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture); NGOs and educational institutions – 6.62% (ProAsyl Foundation Germany, Jacob Blaustein Institute US, Dutch Council for Refugees, etc.); Embassies – 1.12% (US, Netherlands); Other – 6.99% (private donations, human rights awards, 1% of the income tax donation scheme, etc.).