ERRC Welcomes UN Race Committee Findings on Hungary

04 June 2002

The European Roma Rights Center (ERRC), an international public interest law organisation which monitors the situation of Roma in Europe and provides legal defence in cases of human rights abuse, welcomes the Concluding Observations of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on Hungary's compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).

The Committee expresses its concern “at persisting intolerance and discrimination especially in relation to the Roma minority…”. Specifically, the Committee “is concerned about the number of allegations of ill treatment and discrimination against the Roma and non-citizens by law enforcement officials, especially by the police”. In spite of the measures provided for by the “Medium Term Package of Measures to Improve the Living Conditions and Social Position of the Roma Populations”, the Committee notes that “[abuse and discrimination] practices have not ceased,” and recommends that the Government of Hungary “consider recruiting more members of minority groups and especially of the Roma minority in law enforcement bodies and strengthening the existing legal aid system for alleged victims” and “pursue and extend training programmes for judges and prosecutors aiming at sensitising them to discrimination issues”.

As regards the right to education, the Committee is “concerned about discriminatory practices resulting from the system of separate classes for Roma students and from private schooling arrangements” and recommends “that new programs integrate Roma children into mainstream schools”. In the same time, “the Committee strongly recommends that the State party reconsider allocating Roma children to schools and classes for mentally disabled.”

As regards the right to work, “the Committee is concerned at the proportionately higher unemployment rate among the Roma population” and “recommends that the State party strictly apply existing anti-discriminatory provisions in that field and ensure in particular fair access of Roma to professional training programmes and to professional activities.”

As regards the right to housing, “the Committee is concerned that the Roma population is disproportionately subjected to discrimination in respect of housing, and in particular, to forced evictions” and “recommends that the State party take further positive measures to effectively address the issue of discrimination with regard to housing.”

Another area of concern for the Committee is “discriminatory practices against persons belonging to the Roma minority in respect of access to public places, such as restaurants, bars or cafés.” In this area, the Committee “recommends that the State party continue to intensify its efforts in combating such behaviour and raise awareness of the population of all aspects related to racial discrimination.” The Committee further encouraged the government to "complete its efforts as soon as possible [...] on the elaboration of a comprehensive anti-discrimination law [...]".

The full text of the UN Committee's Concluding Observations.

The ERRC submitted written comments to the Committee for considerations during its review of the Hungary’s compliance with ICERD on August 15-16, 2002, and, on the day of the review, representatives of the ERRC, as well as of the Budapest-based non-governmental organisations Hungarian Helsinki Committee and Roma Press Center held a joint briefing on Hungary's record on discrimination before Committee members in Geneva. 


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