Horváth and Kiss v Hungary
29 January 2013
Forum: European Court of Human Rights
ERRC role: Representative
The judgment in Horváth and Kiss v Hungary began with complaints from two young men of Roma origin that they had been wrongly placed in a school for the mentally disabled due to their ethnic origin.
This case is fundamentally about the limited life choices that two Romani children faced following placement in special schools. As a result of being misdiagnosed with mental disabilities, they could not access mainstream education. Instead, they were educated in a segregated remedial school.
In 2011 the applicants Mr Horváth and Mr Kiss, represented by the Chance for Children Foundation (CFCF) and the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), complained to the European Court of Human Rights that their placement in School (“special educational programme” or “special” school) amounted to ethnic discrimination in the enjoyment of their right to education. They alleged that the tests used for their placement had been outdated and culturally biased, putting Roma children at a particular disadvantage.
The submissions to the European Court of Human Rights included extensive arguments that Roma children were assigned to segregated schools based on their racial or ethnic identity rather than intellectual capacities.
The Court ruled in favour of the applicants, finding a violation of Article 2 of Protocol No. 1 (right to education) read in conjunction with Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination).
The Court also underlined that there was a long history of wrongful placement of Romani children in special schools in Hungary and that the State must change this practice.