Horizontal Rule

A.S. v. Hungary

12 April 2004

Forum: Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
ERRC: Representative
Status: Implementation

On 2 January 2001, a Romani woman (Ms A.S.) was sterilised by doctors at the Fehérgyarmat hospital without her consent. During preparation for a caesarian section operation to remove a dead foetus, Ms A.S. was asked to sign forms giving her consent to this operation as well as to her sterilisation. However the doctors did not explain the procedure, its nature, possible risks, or what the consequences of being sterilised would be. Only after the operation did Ms A.S. learn that she had been sterilised.

On 15 October 2001, Ms A.S. and her attorney filed a civil claim for damages against the hospital. On appeal, the Szabolcs-Szatmar-Bereg County Court held that the hospital doctors had indeed acted negligently, because they had not informed Ms A.S. of "the exact method of the operation, of the risks of its performance, and of the possible alternative procedures and methods". Nevertheless, the same Court concluded that since Ms A.S. had provided no proof that she had suffered a lasting detriment, she was not entitled to compensation.

On 12 February 2004, the ERRC and the Legal Defence Bureau for National and Ethnic Minorities (NEKI) jointly filed a complaint with CEDAW relating to the illegal sterilisation under the CEDAW optional protocol. In August 2006, the Committee found the Hungarian government to be in violation of the Convention.  The Committee recommended the Hungarian government provide appropriate compensation to Ms A.S.; review domestic legislation on the principle of informed consent in cases of sterilisation and ensure its conformity with international human rights and medical standards; and monitor public and private health centres, including hospitals and clinics that perform sterilisation procedures to ensure that fully informed consent is given before any sterilisation procedure is carried out. A year later, the Committee expressed concern at the Hungarian Government's failure to implement the Committee's recommendations and again urged the Hungarian government to "provide appropriate compensation to Ms A.S." 

In 2008, the Hungarian Government amended the Public Health Act to ensure that appropriate information be provided to patients in the context of sterilisation procedures to ensure informed consent. However, in March 2008 the Hungarian government advised the ERRC that it would not provide compensation to Ms A.S.

After eight years of national and international legal proceedings, in February 2009 the Hungarian Government finally decided to compensate Ms A S, which was completed in June 2009.

In its Written observations submitted to the CEDAW Committee, the ERRC welcomes the financial compensation of Ms A S, but call for further amendments with regards to the legislation on sterilization procedures.

Case Documents 

The Decision of the Committee
The Committee's concluding comments on Hungary
Written Observation 

Horizontal Rule

ERRC submission to UN HRC on Macedonia (July 2014)

25 July 2014

Written Comments of the European Roma Rights Centre concerning Macedonia to the UN Human Rights Committee for consideration at its 112th session (7-31 October 2014).

more ...

horizontal rule

ERRC submission to the European Commission on Macedonia (May 2014)

26 May 2014

Written comments by the ERRC concerning Macedonia's EU accession progress for consideration by the European Commission during its 2014 review.

more ...

horizontal rule

Training Course for Roma and Sinti Activists in Rome, Italy

26 May 2014

Registration is now open to attend the training course for Roma and Sinti activists sponsored by Associazione 21 Luglio and the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC). The course will be held in Rome from September to December 2014. Participation is free and the most deserving partcipants will be granted the opportunity of a 3 months paid internship at Associazione 21 Luglio. The training course's language is Italian and only travel costs within Italy will be rembursed.

The deadline for submitting applications is 31 August 2014

more ...

horizontal rule