Amnesty International Report 2006 - Hungary
|Publication Date||23 May 2006|
|Cite as||Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2006 - Hungary, 23 May 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/447ff7aa20.html [accessed 1 August 2014]|
Racist attacks on Roma and other minorities, and discrimination against Roma in all sectors of public services, continued. There was official acknowledgement that segregation in schools had increased for Romani children, a quarter of whom were being taught separately despite anti-discrimination legislation. In education, health care and housing, the Romani population continued to face deprivation and discrimination. Legislation to tackle violence against women in abusive relationships was delayed.
Racism and discrimination
Racist attacks and other racially motivated crimes continued to target Romani and Jewish communities. Public statements by senior political figures and the news media fostered racism and intolerance. Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány apologized after referring to the Saudi Arabian football team as "full of terrorists" in February. The Vice-Chairman of Parliament's Human Rights Commission, Zsolt Semjén, also came in for criticism in February for a homophobic jibe at a rival political party.
In February the Constitutional Court declared provisions in a housing decree to be discriminatory and unconstitutional. The decree declared people ineligible for social housing if they had previously occupied accommodation without legal entitlement. The Court held that the decree had a disproportionately negative effect on Roma, and conflicted with local government obligations to house the socially deprived. Romani families reportedly received eviction notices even during a moratorium on winter evictions.
- By denying two Romani men entrance to a disco bar in Nagyhalasz, its owners had violated their dignity and infringed legal requirements of equal treatment, the Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County Court held in June. Under comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation from 2003, the Court awarded 150,000 Hungarian forints (US$695) to each man as victims of racial discrimination. The disco bar was ordered to refrain from further discrimination against Roma.
In September, the European Roma Rights Centre based in Budapest, the capital, issued a report on Romani children's rights in Hungary, in advance of a periodic review of Hungary's obligations by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in January 2006. The report described how Romani children experienced segregation in education, health care and housing, and said that disproportionately high numbers were removed from their families by the state. More than half of Romani households did not have access to hot running water, and 17 per cent of the Romani population lived in settlements where there is no doctor.
In November the Commissioner for Integration of Disadvantaged and Roma Children at the Hungarian Ministry of Education confirmed that the segregation of Romani children remained a serious problem. At least 3,000 elementary school classes and 178 schools were predominantly made up of Romani students, and 25 per cent of Romani students were being taught in a segregated environment.
The police reportedly downplayed the discriminatory motivation of physical assaults on Roma and other minorities, and this reluctance was claimed to have led to punishments for the perpetrators of violent crimes that did not reflect the gravity of the offence.
- The case of 15-year-old Roma József Patai, who was stabbed on a bus in Budapest in May, was initially treated as a racist crime. However, after it emerged that the perpetrator was himself Roma, the police became reluctant to consider racism as a motive in subsequent crimes.
A resolution on the development of a national strategy to prevent and effectively address domestic violence, passed by parliament in 2003 in response to public concerns, remained largely unimplemented. The draft Law on the Order of Protection, requiring an abusive partner to temporarily leave jointly owned premises, was delayed. The only crisis centre in Budapest for women experiencing violence in the home remained partially closed, and no new shelters were established.
A new law to protect victims of domestic violence was being drafted. However, it still required a court to issue an order to restrain an abuser from approaching a victim, making immediate intervention by the police impossible. In addition, the draft law did not provide for extension of the 10-to-30-day limit of a restraining order, and imposition of such an order remained virtually impossible unless the victim was able or willing to testify against the abuser.
In January the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women found in a landmark case that Hungary had not provided effective protection from domestic violence. In a case brought before the Committee, an applicant who had been subjected to regular and severe violence, and whose partner had threatened both her and the children, was not admitted to a government shelter as none was equipped to accept her with her children, one of whom had severe disabilities. Neither protection nor a legal restraining order was available under national law. Legal proceedings initiated by the applicant herself were slow and ineffective, and a domestic court ordered that she share ownership of their apartment with her partner. The Committee ordered immediate measures to guarantee the physical and mental integrity of the woman and her family, and to ensure that all victims of domestic violence were accorded the maximum protection of the law.