PACE’s Migration Committee has strongly condemned attacks on NGOs and their donors who are assisting refugees and migrants and said that governments or political organisations should not use such NGOs as “vehicles for extending their sphere of influence through political agitation”.
It pointed out that recent attacks on migration NGOs had taken the form of “physical violence, legal obstacles, political accusations or even racist attacks”.
Approving a draft resolution based on a report by Domagoj Hajduković (Croatia, SOC) during a meeting by videoconference today, the committee paid tribute to the “enormous and tireless” efforts of so many NGOs, pointing out that without these efforts many States would be unable to meet their legal commitments regarding refugees and migrants or their daily humanitarian needs.
“Member States should neither discriminate against foreign NGOs providing humanitarian assistance to refugees and migrants in their territory, nor should they restrict foreign funding of humanitarian work by domestic NGOs. In this regard, humanitarian donations and action should not be taxed by national fiscal authorities,” the committee said.
The committee called on member States to comply with Council of Europe standards in this area, including Venice Commission opinions on new laws in Russia and Hungary.
On their side, NGOs should respect national laws and comply with transparency requirements. “Lack of transparency, political agitation, religious or philosophical proselytising or commercial lobbying” would undermine public trust in them, the parliamentarians pointed out. They should also avoid becoming unintentional parties to criminal activities.