Romani families in Hungarian municipal expulsion case leave town
10 September 1998
The Hungarian daily Népszabadság reported on July 1, 1998, that the city council of Sátoraljaújhely has in the past three weeks purchased the flats of Romani families that were declared persona non grata by the local city council last summer and has had the dwellings locked. Of the four Romani families who moved in from the village of Ricse only one still lives in Sátoraljaújhely. The rest have left the town. Mr Károly Lackó, mayor of Sátoraljaújhely, stated that this has brought to an end the episode that has been referred to as "the Sátoraljaújhely apartheid case".
Last year, members of the city council took a decision (June 20, 1997), that "the city council declares any person who fails to adapt to the life of the settlement and who endangers public security are persona non grata and will do its best in order to make them leave the town". Mr Jenő Kaltenbach, Ombudsman for National and Ethnic Minorities filed a complaint protesting about the resolution, but the town council refused to rescind its decision. The Budapest-based public interest law organisation, Legal Defence Bureau for National and Ethnic Minorities (NEKI), appealed to the Constitutional Court requesting annulment of the decision, but the Constitutional Court rejected the appeal (see NEKI White Booklet 1997). Mayor Károly Lackó, in his recent interview with Népszabadság, reiterated that he would not change the decision. The fourth Romani family has stated that they will not sell their house and leave Sátoraljaújhely.