Source description last updated: 20 November 2020

In brief: The Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC) is an NGO established in 1989 in order to ensure the implementation of human rights guaranteed in national or international legislation.

Coverage on

Human rights reports on the asylum system.

Covered quarterly on, for countries of priorities A-E (all countries).


“The Hungarian Helsinki Committee is a public benefit human rights organization that protects human dignity through legal and public activities. We provide help to refugees, detainees and victims of law enforcement violence.

The Hungarian Helsinki Committee helps those whose human rights the state violated. Our clients are refugees, detainees and discriminated people.

With only a handful of members at the time of founding, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee has grown to an organization of more than twenty professionals by 2015. Our colleagues include lawyers, attorneys, medical doctors, economists, sociologists and journalists as well. In the early years we only focused on free legal assistance and representation while today our portfolio also includes research and professional training activities spanning through a wide range of fields.

The Hungarian Helsinki Committee is a Hungarian organisation. We almost exclusively deal with Hungarian issues, with the human rights violations of Hungarian authorities. So, why ‘Helsinki’? Helsinki is the trademark of human rights and a respected human rights movement. The governments of Europe and North America signed the Helsinki Final Act on August 1, 1975 in which they committed themselves to respect fundamental human rights.

As a result self-organising groups in the countries of the communist block, referring to the Final Act in their names, began demanding that their states respect the rights laid out in Helsinki. The Hungarian group was founded in 1989 to monitor the fairness of the first free elections, but already designated the issues of refugees and detention as its main operational foci in its Founding Declaration.” (HHC website: About us, undated)


Grant-based funding and private donations.

The 2019 annual report lists a total income of HUF 508,468,162 in opposition to expenditures of HUF 482,079,500. Income is comprised of grants and from private foundations (45.74 per cent), European Union (24.45 per cent), United Nations (15.08 per cent), NGOs and educational institutions (6.62 per cent), embassies (1.12 per cent) and donations from other sources (6.99 per cent). (HHC: Annual Report 2019, undated, p. 24)

Scope of reporting:

Geographic focus: Hungary and neighbouring regions.

Thematic focus: Human rights of citizens, detainees, refugees and asylum seekers.


For a report the objective of which was “[…] to assess whether women and LGBTI […] asylum-seekers and beneficiaries of international protection receive the special attention they are entitled to during the asylum procedure and the integration process in Hungary[,] data was collected through desk research, information requests to authorities, structured interviews with refugee-assisting attorneys and refugees; and a questionnaire with service providers and volunteers offering integration assistance.” (HHC: Safety-Net torn apart, Introduction; 2018, p.3)

The country report on Hungary for the Asylum Information Database (aida) of the European Council on Refugees and Exile (ECRE) on asylum procedure, reception conditions and detention of asylum seekers was written by HHC and edited by ECRE. It is based on “[…] information […] obtained from interviews with the HHC staff and contracted attorneys, UNHCR Hungary, Menedék Hungarian Association for Migrants, SOS Children’s Villages, The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hungary, Cordelia Foundation, Maltese Care Nonprofit Ltd., Migrants’ Help Association of Hungary, Budapest Methodological Centre of Social Policy and Its Institutions, Kalunba Social Services Nonprofit Ltd., Hungarian Baptist Aid and from available reports and from questionnaires submitted to the Hungarian authorities. (HHC: Country Report: Hungary, Acknowledgements & Methodology; March 2020; p. 2)

Language(s) of publications:

English and Hungarian.

Further reading / links:

HHC: Timeline of governmental attacks against Hungarian civil society organisations, Hungarian Helsinki Committee, 17 November 2017:

Die Zeit: "In Ungarn gibt es ein extremes Maß an Rassismus", 8 May 2019

Pro Asyl: Kampf für Menschenrechte in Ungarn wird von PRO ASYL ausgezeichnet, 4 May 2018

HHC: Annual Report 2019

The Hungarian Helsinki Committee publishes second volume of the training manual on credibility assessment in asylum procedures, 11 May 2015

Study: Country Information in Asylum Procedures – Quality as a Legal Requirement in the EU, 20 January 2012

The Refugee Law Reader:


All links accessed 20 November 2020.