MINELRES: ERRC: Housing Rights in Hungary

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Mon May 16 20:41:24 2005

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

Complaint by ERRC and Roma Civil Rights' Foundation Triggers Action by 
Hungarian Parliamentary Commissioners to Review the Constitutionality of 
Social Housing Regulations

13 May 2005, Budapest.  In a decision communicated this week, on 2 May
2005 the Parliamentary Commissioner for Civil Rights and the
Parliamentary Commissioner for National and Ethnic Minority Rights
officially requested the Minister of Interior to order the county-level
administrative offices to examine the local self-government regulations
on social housing, with the aim to ensure that criteria for allocating
social housing are constitutional. The decision follows appeals by the
ERRC and the Roma Civil Rights Foundation urging action following a
number of Constitutional Court decisions.

On February 22, the Hungarian Constitutional Court struck down as
unconstitutional provisions of Budapest 3rd district local government
decree regulating social housing. The ERRC had challenged the decree on
a number of grounds, such as its incompatibility with the Housing Act
and the fact that it has a disproportionate, negative impact on Roma.
The Roma Civil Rights Foundation (RCRF), a Budapest-based civil
organisation submitted a similar motion, as a result of which the Court
ruled that the Budapest 8th and 7th district local government social
housing provisions were unconstitutional. Similar complaints submitted
by the ERRC and RCRF with respect to the rules governing the allocation
of social housing in five other municipalities are currently pending
with the Hungarian Constitutional Court.

Following the February rulings, the two civil organisations jointly
requested the Parliamentary Commissioner for Civil Rights and the
Parliamentary Commissioner for National and Ethnic Minority Rights to
examine the problem of arbitrary or discriminatory criteria for the
allocation of social housing in Hungary on a nationwide basis. On May 2,
the Commissioners issued a report stating, among other things, that
based on their experiences "the self-governments often emphasize their
interest as owners over their constitutional (social) duties", even
though the Housing Act limits their ownership rights by declaring that
the conditions of providing housing have to be regulated by the
self-governments based on social grounds.

This is a particularly important step in the legislative development in
the right to adequate housing in Hungary. This is of particular
significance for Roma, who have borne disproportionately a dramatic
erosion of the housing rights framework which has taken place over the
past fifteen years.  Of particularly acute concern:

* Forced evictions have risen dramatically in recent years; previous
legal protections against forced evictions available to tenants have
been removed; Roma are forcibly evicted from housing more often than
ethnic Hungarians and rarely if ever provided with justice when such
evictions contravene domestic or international law;

* Housing arrangements in Hungary are frequently racially segregated,
and Roma tend to live in demonstrably worse conditions than non-Roma in

* Roma are often denied access to social housing on a racially
discriminatory basis; local governments have sold off meager social
housing stocks and adopted rules preventing persons most in need of
social housing 
from having access to such housing.

This week's action by the Parliamentary Commissioners importantly
highlights the need for urgent government action in this area.

Further information on the issue can be found at
http://www.errc.org/cikk.php?cikk=2157&archiv=1 and

For details regarding the above action, please contact Aladár Horváth,
President of the Roma Civil Rights Foundation (phone: +3613524502)
and/or Anita Danka, ERRC Staff Attorney (e-mail: anita.danka@errc.org,
+361413 2200)


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

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

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



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