MINELRES: ERRC: Hungarian Discotheque Fined for Unequal Treatment

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Tue Jun 28 09:39:22 2005

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

Court Punishes Disco for Denying Entrance to Roma on Racist Grounds

Budapest, 21 June 2005. In one of the first Roma rights decisions issued
under Hungary's comprehensive anti-discrimination law, a discotheque in
the town of Nagyhalász, in northeastern Hungary, has been fined the
Hungarian forint equivalent of approximately 2400 Euros for
discriminating against Roma.

The facts of the case are as follows:

On 10 April 2004, Ms. Agnes Rado and three other young people, two of
whom were, like Ms. Rado, Romani, were turned away by guards at the door
of the Julia Central Discobar in the town of Nagyhalasz, for the stated
reason that they were not "regular guests". Non-Roma coming after them
managed to enter without any identification or having questions asked of
them. In the framework of a joint litigation project with the ERRC, the
Budapest-based NGO Legal Defence Bureau for National and Ethnic
Minorities (NEKI) conducted a test of the disco on 12 June 2004, to
determine whether the establishment was racially discriminating or not.
The tests ascertained that Roma were banned from entering the bar, while
non-Roma were allowed entrance.

On the basis of the evidence gathered, a lawsuit was filed in which
violations of personal rights, based on the infringement of the right to
equal treatment, as regulated by Article 76 of the Hungarian Civil Code,
as well as by Articles 8 and 30(1) of Hungary's new anti-discrimination
law, were alleged. It was also noted in submissions that under Hungary's
anti-discrimination law, adopted to comply with EU rules banning
discrimination, where it has been established that discrimination has
taken place, the burden of proof shifts to the respondent.

On 13 June 2005, the Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County Court held that the
Julia Central Ltd., operating the Julia Central Discobar in Nagyhalasz,
violated the plaintiff's right to dignity and infringed the requirement
of equal treatment. The court awarded 150,000 Hungarian forints each
(approximately 600 EUR) in non-pecuniary damages to Ms. Rado and to the
other three persons concerned. The Julia Central Ltd. was further
ordered to refrain from further violations, and was ordered to post the
court's decision at the discotheque for two months.

The ruling is among the first to date issued by courts under Hungary's 
comprehensive anti-discrimination law, adopted in December 2003, and is 
part of an important developing anti-discrimination jurisprudence on
rights matters in Europe. The decision may still be appealed. The 
plaintiffs have been represented by Erika Muhi, an attorney based at the 
Legal Defence Bureau for National and Ethnic Minorities (NEKI), as part
of a joint litigation project with the European Roma Rights Centre.

For further information on the case, please contact Erika Muhi at 
+36-1-303-8973 (muhi@neki.hu) and/or ERRC Staff Attorney Anita Danka at 
+36-1-413-2221 (anita.danka@errc.org).

The European Roma Rights Centre (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 Centre, visit the ERRC
website at http://www.errc.org.

The Legal Defense Bureau for National and Ethnic Minorities provides
legal assistance to members of national and ethnic minorities who live
in Hungary, as defined in the act on the rights of national and ethnic
minorities, and have suffered discrimination due to their national or
ethnic origin. For more information about the Legal Defense Bureau for
National and Ethnic Minorities, visit the NEKI website
at http://www.neki.hu.

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

Legal Defense Bureau for National and Ethnic Minorities
1537 Budapest 114
P.O. Box 453/269
Phone/Fax: +36 1 3038973 and +36 1 3144998


The European Roma Rights Center is dependent upon the generosity of 
individual donors for its continued existence. If you believe the ERRC 
performs a service valuable to the public, please join in enabling its 
future with a contribution. Gifts of all sizes are welcome; bank
transfers are preferred. Please send your contribution to:
European Roma Rights Center
Budapest Bank Rt.
1054 Budapest
Bathory utca 1

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