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Local government in Hungary taken to court by Roma

3 April 1999

On February 24, trial began in a case brought against the local government of Karcag, Jász-Nagykun County, Hungary, for allegedly making Romani residents carry out community work in order to receive social security benefits. The 135 Romani residents bringing the case claim that between 1992 and 1996, applicants for social security were sent to the government-owned city maintenance office where they had to "volunteer" to do community work. They were reportedly not given their social benefit money unless they could show a certificate proving that they had carried out at least five days "voluntary work".

In 1997, the Karcag Gypsy Minority Self-government contacted the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for National and Ethnic Minority Affairs, asking for an investigation into the case. The investigation established that the practice was against the law, and proposed that a criminal legal procedure be started against Mayor Sándor Fazekas for abuse of power. The investigation was dropped by the county prosecution, who justified their decision with the finding that the authorities had not acted intentionally. However, they did find that the local government had acted unlawfully when they made community work a condition of benefits. The Ombudsman for National and Ethnic Minority Affairs Jenő Kaltenbach recommended that the local government pay wages for the work done by the Roma, but the mayor refused.

Legal representatives engaged in May 1998 by the Roma concerned first demanded that local authorities pay 1.5 million HUF (approximately 6000 euros) total to the victims in remuneration for the work. Local representatives however refused to make the payment on the basis that the work had been carried out voluntarily. The Roma then took the case to court. According to the Roma Press Center, local authorities in the south-western Hungarian town of Kaposvár also engage in the practice of linking benefits to community work.

(Roma Press Center)

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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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