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Hungarian Discotheque Fined for Unequal Treatment

21 June 2005

Court Punishes Disco for Denying Entrance to Roma on Racist Grounds

Budapest. In one of the first Roma rights decisions issued under Hungary's comprehensive anti-discrimination law, a discotheque in the town of Nagyhalász, in northeastern Hungary, has been fined the Hungarian forint equivalent of approximately 2400 Euros for discriminating against Roma.

The facts of the case are as follows:

On 10 April 2004, Ms. Agnes Rado and three other young people, two of whom were, like Ms. Rado, Romani, were turned away by guards at the door of the Julia Central Discobar in the town of Nagyhalasz, for the stated reason that they were not "regular guests". Non-Roma coming after them managed to enter without any identification or having questions asked of them. In the framework of a joint litigation project with the ERRC, the Budapest-based NGO Legal Defence Bureau for National and Ethnic Minorities (NEKI) conducted a test of the disco on 12 June 2004, to determine whether the establishment was racially discriminating or not. The tests ascertained that Roma were banned from entering the bar, while non-Roma were allowed entrance.

On the basis of the evidence gathered, a lawsuit was filed in which violations of personal rights, based on the infringement of the right to equal treatment, as regulated by Article 76 of the Hungarian Civil Code, as well as by Articles 8 and 30(1) of Hungary's new anti-discrimination law, were alleged. It was also noted in submissions that under Hungarys anti-discrimination law, adopted to comply with EU rules banning discrimination, where it has been established that discrimination has taken place, the burden of proof shifts to the respondent.

On 13 June 2005, the Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County Court held that the Julia Central Ltd., operating the Julia Central Discobar in Nagyhalasz, violated the plaintiff's right to dignity and infringed the requirement of equal treatment. The court awarded 150,000 Hungarian forints each (approximately 600 EUR) in non-pecuniary damages to Ms. Rado and to the other three persons concerned. The Julia Central Ltd. was further ordered to refrain from further violations, and was ordered to post the court's decision at the discotheque for two months.

The ruling is among the first to date issued by courts under Hungary's comprehensive anti-discrimination law, adopted in December 2003, and is part of an important developing anti-discrimination jurisprudence on Roma rights matters in Europe. The decision may still be appealed. The plaintiffs have been represented by Erika Muhi, an attorney based at the Legal Defence Bureau for National and Ethnic Minorities (NEKI), as part of a joint litigation project with the European Roma Rights Centre.

For further information on the case, please contact Erika Muhi at +36-1-303-8973 (muhi@neki.hu) and/or ERRC Staff Attorney Anita Danka at +36-1-413-2221 (anita.danka@errc.org).

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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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