Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe visits Hungary
07 November 2002
On September 11, 2002, Mr Alvaro Gil-Robles, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, presented a report to the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly on his official visit to Hungary from June 11 to 14, 2002. In his report, Mr Gil-Robles noted "The Roma/Gypsy community is undoubtedly the group most directly affected by the adverse impact of Hungarian society's transition to a market economy. Its members must now deal with difficult situations arising, inter alia, from job insecurity, discrimination in access to education and the lack of decent housing. […] Unemployment has an immediate impact on access to housing, and the situation is scarcely better for those who do have accommodation. Frequently, the latter can no longer pay rent or maintenance costs, and landlords take advantage of this situation to evict them, demolish substandard buildings and subsequently erect new buildings in which flats are offered at rates that they cannot afford. Many Roma/Gypsy families thus find themselves homeless or in run-down and unsanitary housing […]. The Roma/Gypsy community's third cause for concern is access to education. The absence of good-quality education may indeed be a factor in current and future discrimination against this community. […] According to the information I received from the community representatives and my other speakers, Roma/Gypsy children are systematically placed in so-called special, or "C", classes; these classes are also said to receive children from underprivileged backgrounds, who suffer from a social handicap as a result, and the academic level is consequently lower. About 70% of the pupils in "C" classes are said to be Roma/Gypsy children and follow a simplified curriculum, without experienced teachers and with poor facilities. Thus, poverty and Roma/Gypsy origin are allegedly a fact of discrimination in access to education, and this inevitably makes it highly likely that inequalities and social discrimination will be perpetuated." (Full text of Mr Gil-Robles' report ).