Law and policy: Actions to achieve full respect of children's rights in the Hungarian child protection system

24 July 2007

Law and policy: Actions to achieve full respect of children's rights in the Hungarian child protection system

From the end of December 2006, the ERRC is implementing a 1-year project aimed at addressing deficiencies in the Hungarian child protection system which may enable children's rights workers and officials to work in a manner not fully respectful of fundamental rights of Romani children. Within this project, the ERRC aims to foster the effective participation of affected groups in the process of creating new legislative, policy and strategic measures through the creation of action plan which will be advocated to the relevant decision makers, as well as the eventual reform of the Hungarian child protection system, to ensure full respect of national and international children's rights provisions. This project focuses on 3 thematic areas, including:

  1. The possible over-representation of Romani children in the Hungarian state care system, which may be the result of an imprecise definition of the term 'endangered children' and the subjective manner in which this concept is applied in the removal of children from her/his family.
  2. The role of ethnic identity in adoption procedures. In particular, the ERRC will explore the compatibility of regulations of the Hungarian Child Protection Act which establish that, "In the course of substitute protection of the child, the child's freedom of conscience and religion must be respected, in addition, attention must be paid to the child's national, ethnic and cultural affiliation" (para 7), with the Hungarian Data Protection Act. The ERRC will also explore issues surrounding actual adoption in the face of allegations that perspective non-Romani adoptive parents (the majority of adoptive parents) exhibit a strong unwillingness to adopt Romani children.
  3. The possible over-representation of Romani children in institutions for the mentally disabled, due to the higher financial support available and possibly based on mis-diagnosis.

The activities of the project include:

  1. Research on the three thematic issues listed above;
  2. Establishment of expert working groups which meet regularly to discuss the issues, assist with research and input the action plan;
  3. Development of the action plan;
  4. Advocacy activities to ensure wide knowledge and understanding of the issues and need for change, to secure support for the action plan and eventual implementation by law and policy makers;
  5. Hosting roundtable discussions with the relevant decision making bodies to garner support for the action plan;
  6. Publication of the action plan/report, in Hungarian and English; and
  7. Hosting a dissemination conference to launch the action plan and discuss future steps.

The project is funded by the European Community within the programme "2005 Actions in support of civil society in the Member States which acceded to the European Union on 1st May 2004". For further information on this project, please contact Tara Bedard at:


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