European Commission on Racism and Intolerance Issues Third Report on Hungary

On June 8, 2004, the Council of Europe's European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) made public its Third Report on Hungary. In its Executive Summary, ECRI stated, "[…] the progress made in the field of legislation and governmental policy in dealing with the problems of racism, intolerance and discrimination remains limited in a number of respects. […] ECRI recognises the positive initiatives that the Hungarian authorities are beginning to take in the field of Roma education but it considers that the segregation of Roma children in education remains an important issue of concern. Moreover, initiatives taken at national level to combat racism and discrimination do not always successfully filter down to local level". The following is a non-exhaustive list of the recommendations to Hungarian authorities by ECRI:

"66. ECRI recommends that measures be taken to ensure that members of Roma communities enjoy equal access to health care. ECRI also recommends awareness-raising and training initiatives aimed at health care personnel to combat stereotypes and prejudices that can lead to discriminatory treatment of Roma patients. […]

67. ECRI also considers that the appointment of assistants who speak the Romani language and who can serve as mediators between Roma patients and health care personnel would be a positive step. […]

69. ECRI recommends that further efforts be made to improve the employment situation of the Roma community. It considers that, given the long-term and endemic nature of the disadvantage Roma experience on the labour market, special measures are necessary to place them in a position in which they can compete on an equal footing with members of the majority population.

73. ECRI recommends that urgent measures be taken to improve the housing situation of Roma, and particularly to ensure that no arbitrary forced eviction of Roma families takes place.

74. ECRI strongly encourages the Hungarian authorities to develop a social housing policy which could benefit members of the Roma community living in poor conditions. In particular, ECRI recommends that Roma families who are currently living without access to even basic amenities are provided with a decent standard of housing and infrastructure.

75. ECRI also stresses the need to address the problem of segregation of Roma communities from the majority community, and the attitudes on the part of the majority community which have contributed to such segregation, and considers that the principle objective of housing policy should be to allow Roma communities to live as a part of majority communities.

76. ECRI expresses its concern at information according to which initiatives taken at the national level to improve the situation of the Roma community may not always filter down to the local level to be implemented in practice. […]

77. ECRI reiterates its recommendation that discrimination by local authorities should not be tolerated by national authorities. It is essential to ensure that national policies and legislation in favour of the Roma community are understood and applied at local level. […]

78. ECRI recommends that further emphasis be placed on ensuring that the Roma community is involved at all stages of the planning and implementation of measures which concern them, at as local a level as possible. […] ECRI stresses the importance of encouraging projects and initiatives which emanate from the Roma community itself, through the on-going provision of funding and the widening of successful projects to other areas. […]

83. ECRI strongly encourages the Hungarian authorities to strengthen their efforts to carry out awareness raising campaigns on the problems of racism and intolerance […] particularly, in small local communities and less populated regions. […]

90. ECRI stresses the importance of setting up an independent investigatory mechanism distinct from the public prosecution offices, to conduct enquiries into allegations of police misconduct and where necessary, ensure that the alleged perpetrators are brought to justice. […]

101. ECRI urges the Hungarian authorities urgently to take further steps to end the over-representation of Roma children in special schools, including the preparation and implementation of means of assessment that are not culturally biased and the training of teachers and other involved persons to ensure that they are making appropriate decisions. ECRI recommends that measures be taken to facilitate the integration of Roma children currently in special schools into the mainstream school system. […]

104. ECRI urges the Hungarian authorities to take all necessary steps to end the segregation that results from certain catch-up or remedial programmes involving the channelling of Roma children into separate special classes in mainstream schools.

105. ECRI recommends that the authorities closely monitor the new preparative programme in order to ensure that this programme results in Roma children being fully integrated into mainstream schools. […]

107. ECRI recommends that the Hungarian authorities closely examine the situation as regards mainstream schools mainly attended by Roma in order to develop measures to foster integrated schools. […]

109. ECRI urges the Hungarian authorities to closely monitor the decision-making process of registering children as private pupils in order to assess its possible discriminatory effects and to take all necessary measures to ensure that this system is not used as a means of taking Roma children out of schools. […]

112. ECRI recommends that the Hungarian authorities develop and restructure kindergarten education to ensure that all Roma children attend kindergarten. Measures which could be taken to achieve this aim may include increasing the number of kindergarten schools in regions where a high proportion of Roma live, appropriate awareness-raising and training of kindergarten staff and the appointment of Roma mediators in kindergartens in order to create a link between the Roma families and the school authorities. […]

116. ECRI recommends that further measures be taken to encourage the participation of Roma children in education at the secondary and tertiary level. Such measures should include financial subsidies to ensure that children from poorer families are able to continue their studies, as well as awareness-raising initiative among Roma communities concerning the importance of education for their children. […]

The full text of ECRI's Third Report on Hungary is available at: ECRI Report.

 (ERRC)

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