ERRC Welcomes Hungary's New Minority Ombudsman

15 June 2007

The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) welcomes the appointment of Mr. Ernő Kállai as the new Parliamentary Commissioner for National and Ethnic Minority Rights (Minority Ombudsman). Mr. Kállai assumes the position as of 11 June 2007, formerly held by Mr. Jenő Kaltenbach. The ERRC is confident that Mr. Kállai will build upon the excellent work carried out by Mr. Kaltenbach who served as the Ombudsman from 1995 until his mandate ended in June 2007.

The ERRC is pleased that Mr. Kállai prioritises the integration of Romani minority into the Hungarian society and describes this objective as a “crucial question”. The ERRC firmly supports the idea of economic and social integration; to date the Roma remain the most deprived ethnic group in Europe. The fundamental rights of Roma are still being violated on a regular basis even in the most developed countries. They are subject to discrimination in accessing employment, education, health care, and public and social services. There are also alarming reports regarding violations of housing rights of the Roma all around Europe. Adding all this together, it can be affirmed that the situation of the Roma is a litmus test regarding how much minority rights are really respected in a country. We believe that being of Roma origin himself, Mr. Kállai has first hand experience with the problems that the Roma face in Hungary and his ‘insider’ vision might add novel dimensions to the tasks he will embrace in his new post.

The ERRC believes that the work of Minority Ombudsman is imperative in advancing minority rights in Hungary. Mr. Kállai’s personal and academic background presents an ideal blend to address the minority rights issues of the Roma in an effectual and resourceful manner; especially in the fields of employment, education and housing.

The ERRC looks forward to working with Mr. Kállai to add even more accomplishments to the commendable attainments of his predecessor, Mr. Kaltenbach. The ERRC expresses its warmest welcome and wishes great success to Ernő Kállai in improving the quality of life for all minorities in Hungary in his new position.


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