Horizontal Rule

EU: Commission probe must spell the end of Romani segregation in Hungarian schools

26 May 2016

Brussels, Budapest, 26 May 2016: The European Commission decision to launch a probe into systemic discrimination against Romani children in Hungary must help break generations of injustice in the country once and for all, said a coalition of human rights organisations today.

The probe comes after rights groups, including the European Roma Rights Centre and Amnesty International, provided extensive evidence of how Romani children face persistent discrimination and segregation in the Hungarian education system.

The Hungarian government must now heed the European Commission’s call and take immediate action to end the intense prejudice against Romani pupils in the country’s schools.

“By finally taking action on this fundamental human rights abuse denying Romani children access to quality education, the European Commission has said enough is enough and the systemic discrimination and segregation of Romani pupils in Hungary’s schools cannot and will not be tolerated,” said Iverna McGowan, Head of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office.

The type of investigation launched today against Hungary, known formally as an infringement proceeding, is a mechanism available to the European Commission to ensure EU member states’ national laws and practices comply with European law. Since 2014, it has been used twice by the European Commission in cases when EU anti-discrimination legislation has been breached, to tackle problems with access to education for Romani children in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Should the Hungarian government fail to address the Commission’s concerns and put an end to this unlawful situation, they risk being referred to the European Court of Justice, which could impose severe financial sanctions on the country.

The infringement proceeding against Hungary opened by the European Commission follows evidence of continued segregation within the Hungarian education system, with 45% of Romani children in Hungary attending segregated schools or classes. Human rights organisations, including the European Roma Rights Centre, have also documented and taken several segregation cases to the courts.

Despite rulings from the European Court of Human Rights, national courts and the Equal Treatment Authority that school segregation is unlawful, no action has been taken by the authorities to promote inclusive education. On the contrary, the evidence makes it clear that the government intends to pursue policies that further entrench racial discrimination into Hungary’s school system.

“Despite the European Court of Human Rights explicitly telling Hungary to ‘undo a history of racial segregation’ in its schools against Roma like myself, Hungarian authorities wilfully continue to marginalise thousands of our children within a prejudicial education system,” said Đorđe Jovanović, President of the European Roma Rights Centre.

“Separate can never be equal and Hungary’s aggressive discrimination against Romani children denies them the opportunities to succeed, and traps yet another generation in deprivation and poverty.”

The onus is now on the Hungarian government to take concrete and immediate action to end school segregation, and ensure that every Romani child can exercise their right to education in line with the country’s international and regional human rights obligations.

For further information, contact:

Amnesty International media enquiries in Brussels
Paul Creeney
+32 (0)2 548 27 73 
mob: +32 (0)486 042 047

European Roma Rights Centre media enquiries in Budapest
Bernard Rorke
+3630 914 3065

Horizontal Rule

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).

more ...

horizontal rule

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. 

more ...

horizontal rule

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.

more ...

horizontal rule