L.F. v Hungary

Facts

The applicant is a Romani man living in Gyöngyöspata (Hungary). In 2011 a new mayor from Hungary’s notorious Jobbik party took office. The mayor announced plans to implement a new social welfare scheme being used elsewhere – the so-called “Érpatak model” according to which welfare benefits should only be paid to those who “contribute”, not those who are “destructive”. A few months after the mayor took office, officials from the mayor’s office came to the applicant’s home while police waited outside. They took various measurements of the home and did not explain what the purpose of their visit was. The applicant filed a criminal complaint but the police and prosecutors refused to take action, finding that there was no criminal offence.

The ERRC’s Third-Party Intervention

We said that random inspections by public officials of Romani people’s homes were an example of antigypsyism, a phenomenon which also manifests itself in school segregation, police brutality, forced evictions, and other human rights violations which target Roma. We emphasised the way antigypsyism often manifests itself in Europe through stereotypes about Romani neighbourhoods, housing, and access to welfare benefits. In Hungary in particular, antigypsyism had manifested itself in recent years in programmes of forced evictions of Roma from cities, notably in Miskolc – Hungary’s fourth-largest city which passed a municipal ordinance that was designed to expel Roma living in a particular neighbourhood and that was ruled unconstitutional. Antigypsyism had also manifested itself in Hungary’s stigmatising public work scheme, in which large numbers of Romani welfare recipients are required to engage in menial “work” which does not help them enter the labour market. We described the “Érpatak Model” as a classic manifestation of antigypsyism and urged the Court to use the term “antigypsyism” to describe the particular forms of discrimination Roma face. We then defined and urged the Court to apply the notions of “harassment” (as a form of discrimination) and “institutional racism”. When dealing with cases arising under Articles 14 and 8 where the notions of harassment and institutional racism were applicable, we encouraged the Court to take a holistic approach, understanding how complex forms of institutional discrimination (for example, spanning local authorities and police, and reinforcing each other) could result in discrimination cases before the Court. In such cases, the ERRC also argued that the burden of proof should shift to the Respondent Government to show that there was no discrimination.

The Court’s statement of facts in the case can be found here.

Our third-party intervention can be found here.

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