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ERRC Conference Highlights Worrying Situation of Romani Children in the Hungarian Child Protection System

17 December 2007

Hungarian Romani Children Over-Represented in State Care

Budapest: At a conference hosted in Budapest today, the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) presented a report based on research conducted in 2007 which indicates a disproportionate number of children in state care in Hungary are of Romani background. The report, "Dis-Interest of the Child: Romani Children in the Hungarian Child Protection System", explores concerns related to the over-representation of Romani children in state care as well as the role of ethnic identity in state care and adoption processes. It also covers the disproportionate categorisation of Romani children in state care as mentally disabled.

In Hungary's 7 regions focus group discussions with professionals were conducted by Hungarian experts Maria Herczog, Marian Nemenyi and Gabor Havas. The ERRC conducted field research in three counties and several Budapest districts and held in-depth interviews with children living in children's homes, professionals in child care and adoption and Romani families whose children were under special protection.

For this research 120 children living in Hungarian children's homes were interviewed by the European Roma Rights Centre. Children of Romani background accounted for 58% of this group while Romani children account for only 13% of the child population in Hungary. In some homes, even all of the resident children were Romani.

Independent researcher and ERRC consultant Maria Nemenyi highlighted that subjective forms of neglect, including bad social and housing conditions, which depend on interpretation of the assessor are more commonly listed as reasons for the removal of Romani than non-Romani children from their families. According to Maria Herczog, "Romani children are less likely to be adopted because primarily non-Romani adopters often do not want Romani children for different reasons." A disproportionate number of Romani children in state care have additionally been categorised as mentally disabled which affects their quality of education and their potential for adoption. The report points out the need for serious attention by the Hungarian government to these matters.

According to Tara Bedard of the ERRC and author of the report "The reasons are many and multifaceted. The solutions are equally complex and will require open minds and strong commitment by all actors involved to initiate positive change for Romani children in state care." Key ERRC recommendations for action to be taken by the Hungarian government were presented. They include legally empowering and training child protection workers in the collection and handling of ethnically disaggregated data, which will help to understand the full scope of the situation and the need to strengthen actions for the prevention of endangerment of Romani children. No child should be placed in short-term care without court approval. Equally non-discrimination, equal opportunities and Romani participation in the child care system were underlined.

The full text of the report is available in English  View it (Acrobat pdf format)! and in Hungarian  View it (Acrobat pdf format)! on the ERRC website.

For further information, please contact:
Tara Bedard, ERRC Senior Projects Manager, tara.bedard@errc.org, +36.1.413.2200 (English)
Monika Pacziga, ERRC Women’s Rights Officer, monika.pacziga@errc.org, +36.1.413.2200 (English and Hungarian)

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ERRC submission to UN HRC on Hungary (February 2018)

14 February 2018

Written Comments of the European Roma Rights Centre concerning Hungary to the UN Human Rights Committee for consideration at its 122nd session (12 Narch - 6 April 2018).

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The Fragility of Professional Competence: A Preliminary Account of Child Protection Practice with Romani and Traveller Children in England

24 January 2018

Romani and Traveller children in England are much more likely to be taken into state care than the majority population, and the numbers are rising. Between 2009 and 2016 the number of Irish Travellers in care has risen by 400% and the number of Romani children has risen 933%. The increases are not consistent with national trends, and when compared to population data, suggest that Romani and Traveller children living in the UK could be 3 times more likely be taken into public care than any other child. 

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Families Divided: Romani and Egyptian Children in Albanian Institutions

21 November 2017

There’s a high percentage of Romani and Egyptian children in children’s homes in Albania – a disproportionate number. These children are often put into institutions because of poverty, and then find it impossible ever to return to their families. Because of centuries of discrimination Roma and Egyptians in Albania are less likely to live in adequate housing, less likely to be employed and more likely to feel the effects of extreme poverty.

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