MINELRES: ERRC Files Motion Challenging Housing Legislation

MINELRES moderator minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Fri Nov 12 18:27:55 2004


Original sender: European Roma Rights Center <errc@errc.org>


ERRC Brings Social Housing Issues before the Hungarian Constitutional
Court

10 November

Motion filed with the Hungarian Constitutional Court challenges
provisions of six local government decrees concerning access to social
housing

On 10 November 2004, the European Roma Rights Center (ERRC), a
Budapest-based international public interest law organization, filed a
motion with the Hungarian Constitutional Court requesting review of the
constitutionality of six Hungarian local government decrees regulating
access to social housing. The motion concerns municipal regulations in
four districts of Budapest - Kőbánya, Csepel, III.district, I. district
- and two other cities - Miskolc and Debrecen. The impugned decrees
state that local government authorities are not to provide social
housing to people who have previously occupied apartments or other
premises in violation of the ownersproperty rights or without legal
entitlement. In its motion, the ERRC argues that such provisions exclude
those individuals and groups who are the most in need of social housing,
and who - in the absence of 
adequate government housing policies - often have no option but to
resort to different forms of irregular occupation of housing.

As regards the new Hungarian anti-discrimination act as well as in terms
of the relevant international legal standards, including those contained
in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
and the European Social Charter, the ERRC calls to the Courts attention
the fact that the decrees at issue have also had a disparate impact on
Hungarian Roma who as a result of their extremely precarious housing
situation, 
documented by numerous domestic and international monitoring
organizations, are  frequently most in need of social housing and hence
are also disproportionately affected by the provisions in question.

In addition, the ERRC challenges the decrees on other constitutional
grounds including: the illegality of imposing sanctions retroactively
(i.e. on individuals who have been identified as occupying premises
without
legal title prior to the adoption of the said decrees); the vagueness of
the language contained in the decrees, which allows a very wide scope
for discretion and in effect invites arbitrary application; the decrees'
incompatibility with other Hungarian legislation of a superior order,
and their incompatibility with the constitutionally recognized rights to
human dignity and equality.

Estimates hold that several thousand persons in Hungary are homeless and
over a million live in inadequate housing conditions. In recent years,
Hungarian authorities have eviscerated the rights of tenants without
adopting suitable policies to buffer the impact of dramatic changes to
Hungarian law in the area of housing. Hungary has among the lowest
levels of social housing in Europe, and in many municipalities existing
public housing stocks are being sold. In view of the graveness of the
problem addressed by the motion and the approaching winter, the ERRC
motion requests that the Hungarian Constitutional Court expedite
proceedings and  without delay declare the impugned provisions of the
six local government decrees null and void.

Additional information on the situation of Roma in Hungary is available
at 
http://lists.errc.org/publications/indices/hungary.shtml. 
For details regarding the above action, please contact 
Anita Danka, ERRC Paralegal 
(e-mail: anita.danka@errc.org, phone: +361413 2200).

_____________________________________________

The European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) is an international public
interest law organization engaging in a range of activities aimed at
combating anti-Romani racism and human rights abuse of Roma, in
particular
strategic litigation, international advocacy, research and policy
development, and training of Romani activists. For more information
about the European Roma Rights Center, visit the ERRC website at
http://www.errc.org.

European Roma Rights Center
1386 Budapest 62
P.O. Box 906/93
Hungary
Phone:+36 1 4132200
Fax:+36 1 4132201
_____________________________________________

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