MINELRES: ERRC: Hungarian Constitutional Court Strikes Down Discriminatory Provisions

MINELRES moderator minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Fri Mar 4 20:35:22 2005


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



Ruling Reverses Local Rules Precluding Roma from Access to Social
Housing

Budapest, 2 March 2005.  In a decision communicated today, on February
22, the Hungarian Constitutional Court struck down as unconstitutional
provisions of a Budapest 3rd District Local Government decree regulating
social housing. The ERRC had challenged the decree on a number of
grounds, including the fact of its having a disproportionate, negative
impact on Roma. The ERRC motion among other things tested Hungary's new
anti-discrimination law, adopted in December 2003 to comply with
European Union rules.

Roma currently face crisis conditions in the field of housing in
Hungary. As the international community has strengthened its commitments
to the right to adequate housing and the need to provide housing to the
most vulnerable sectors of society, Hungary has dramatically weakened
protections available to tenants. In particular, in May 2000,
legislation entered into effect allowing the notary -- an employee of
the municipality -- powers to order evictions absent a court procedure.
A notary decision ordering eviction must be implemented within eight
days, and appeals are not suspensive.

Local authorities in Hungary have in recent years also sold off
significant amounts of the public (including social) housing stocks,
creating a situation in which Hungary may not be able in practice to
meet the housing needs of the poor and/or extremely poor. Owing to
widespread anti-Romani sentiment existing in Hungary, allegations of
racial discrimination in the allocation of public housing are often
plausible.

In its February 22 decision, the Constitutional Court found illegal
provisions of the Budapest 3rd District Local Government housing decree
excluding from eligibility for social housing persons who previously
occupied apartments or other premises in violation of the owners'
property rights or without legal entitlement. The Court held that this
decree was in conflict with the Hungarian Housing Act, as it interferes
with the requirement that local governments provide housing to the
socially weak. The Court reaffirmed that criteria for social housing
must be social in nature.

The decision is particularly important in developing the right to
adequate housing under Hungarian domestic law. Similar complaints
brought by the ERRC in November 2004 challenging the local housing
regulations of four other Hungarian municipalities are currently pending
with the Hungarian Constitutional Court.

Information on the action can be found at
http://www.errc.org/cikk.php?cikk=2050.  For further information, please
contact ERRC Staff Attorney Anita Danka: anita.danka@errc.org, +(36 1)
41 32 200.

_____________________________________________

The European Roma Rights Centre is an international public interest law
organisation which monitors the rights of Roma and provides legal
defence in cases of human rights abuse. For more information about the
European Roma Rights Centre, visit the ERRC on the web at
http://www.errc.org.

European Roma Rights Centre
1386 Budapest 62
P.O. Box 906/93
Hungary


Phone: +36 1 4132200
Fax:   +36 1 4132201

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