Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (TASZ)
The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (TASZ) promotes fundamental human rights and defends vulnerable communities from rights violations by the state. Rejecting support from the Hungarian government or donations from political parties, TASZ conducts crowdfunding from thousands of Hungarian and international donors, accepts in-kind donations of computers and other administrative resources, and receives support from Hungarian charitable organizations and banks. It also provides supporters with the option of donating 1% of their annual taxes to the organization and purchasing TASZ-themed merchandise online. In addition, the organization maintains an extensive and active volunteer network to assist with legal and advocacy initiatives. Volunteer services include translating legal texts, facilitating relationships between TASZ and the press, establishing connections with other NGOs, publishing annual reports, creating digital media, and organizing events.
The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union collects information and provides legal advice on the most frequently asked questions related to the pandemic. Publishing on its own website, TASZ has written about a variety of issues from a human rights perspective, including vaccinations, mask wearing, rules for businesses and schools, public gatherings, protection of health data, and laws about infringing pandemic-related restrictions. It also conveys information from the WHO and academic institutions to help inform the public about health risks from COVID-19.
Theory of Change
Mobilizing local volunteers and individual funding contributions can strengthen legitimacy and social solidarity as well as contribute to the sustainability of human rights legal advocacy.
TASZ monitors legislation, pursues strategic litigation, conducts volunteer training, and launches awareness-raising media campaigns through a diverse set of initiatives across Hungary. TASZ developed the Equality Project to protect vulnerable communities from state-level discrimination. Its Privacy Project works to limit state intervention into the private lives of citizens and pressures the state to provide adequate access to health care, public education, and various social services. Its Political Freedoms Project fights against unconstitutional restrictions of citizens’ engagement with public affairs and strengthens the public’s ability to freely express opinions about the state. To facilitate the success of its initiative, TASZ maintains partnerships with local activist groups and memberships in international networks of civil liberties organizations, like the International Organization of Civil Liberties Organizations (INCLO) and the Civil Liberties Union of Europe (Liberties).
TASZ is present at courts, national and international conferences, universities, and in rural and urban areas across Hungary. In 2020 alone, the organization responded to over 5,000 requests for legal aid and over 3,000 questions about the pandemic. Ongoing court cases have addressed restrictions to freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and repression of Roma communities in Hungary, among others. To support its work, nearly 50 volunteers contributed more than 2,500 hours of work to the organization in 2020, while over 1,000 private individuals made donations to TASZ and over 2,500 contributed money through their taxes. The organization is routinely cited in the national and international press for court cases addressing state-wide oppression in Hungary.