Hungarian Civil Society Organisations Call on International Bodies to React to Racist Judge
09 May 2014
Budapest, 9 May 2014: The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) yesterday sent a letter of concern on behalf of 29 civil society organisations in Hungary to the Chair of the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), Christian Åhlund, and the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, to call their attention to a recent court decision in Hungary which displayed the racist attitude of the presiding judge. The judge expressed racist and discriminatory views against the Roma population in justification of her decision.
In the letter, civil society organisations expressed concern over the judgment of the Regional Court of Gyula in Békés county on 24 March 2014 in a civil case initiated by the prosecutor demanding the dissolution of the extreme right wing group For a Better Future (Szebb Jövőért Polgárőr Egyesület) for its unlawful, anti-Roma activities in Gyöngyöspata in 2011. These activities included patrolling, harassing and intimidating the Romani population in the town. For a Better Future is a paramilitary group closely linked to the previously dissolved Hungarian Guard (Magyar Gárda) and its predecessor the New Hungarian Guard (Új Magyar Gárda),
However, the Court rejected the call of the prosecutor to ban the group. Furthermore, the justification of the judge reflected a clearly racist attitude. The judge justified the rhetoric of the group, for example supporting the notion of “gypsy criminality” and stating as a fact that Roma represent a high proportion of criminals.
“For many years, the ERRC has called on governments to adopt a ‘zero tolerance’ policy as concerns racist speech by government officials. By tolerating racist speech from officials, the government sets the tone for the whole society, encouraging more hate speech and worse hate crimes,” explained the ERRC Chair of the Board Rob Kushen. The ERRC requested ECRI to include this matter in the agenda when its delegation visits Hungary in June 2014 for a periodic review.
The letter of concern is available here in English.
For more information, contact:
Media and Communications Officer
European Roma Rights Centre