MINELRES: ERRC: UN Committee Urges Hungary to Combat Discrimination and Social Exclusion of Roma

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Fri Jun 1 07:36:42 2007

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

Various Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Concerns Detailed

Budapest, Geneva, May 31, 2007. The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC)
and the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) today welcomed
the Concluding Observations of the United Nations Committee on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) on Hungary's compliance with the
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The
comments follow the Committee's review of Hungary at its 38th session in

On a positive note, the Committee noted the adoption of the Act on Equal
Treatment and the Promotion of Equal Opportunities and the establishment
of the Equal Treatment Authority as well as the Roma Integration Decade
Programme Strategy Plan for the period 2007 to 2015.

Among the principal subjects of concern, the Committee noted that the
rights recognized in the Covenant are not directly applicable in the
Hungarian courts; that the shared burden of proof under the Equal
Treatment Act, requiring the victim merely to establish a prima facie
case of discrimination, whereupon the burden of proof shifts to the
alleged discriminator, is reportedly rarely applied by the courts; and
that the low level of resources provided to the Equal Treatment
Authority since its inception and the recent reduction in its funding
and staff may adversely affect its capacity to deal with an increasing

The Committee also elaborated concerns with regard to access of the Roma
minority in Hungary to social and economic rights. The Committee noted,
among others, discrimination against Roma in the labour market; lack of
an adequate safety net for disadvantaged individuals and families such
as Roma; inadequate housing conditions of Roma, increasing forced
evictions and discriminatory barriers for Roma to access social housing;
denial of access to health services to Roma, segregation in hospital
facilities and inferior quality of health services provided to Roma; and
high number of Roma children segregated in separate schools and classes.

The Committee recommended that the State party:

"…intensify its efforts to reduce Roma unemployment through specifically
targeted measures, including by enhancing professional training and
sustainable employment opportunities in communities with significant
Roma populations and increasing the number of Roma in the central and
local governments"; 

"… ensure the strict application of anti-discrimination legislation by
the courts, local governments and labour offices";

"… take more effective measures to encourage the private sector to
provide adequate employment opportunities for the Roma";

"…collect disaggregated data on unemployment and informal economy
participation of Roma, set specific benchmarks to reduce the employment
gap between Roma and non-Roma, and include such data, as well as
detailed information on the results of the measures taken to improve
employment opportunities for Roma, in its next periodic report";

"… adopt and implement remedial measures relating to infrastructure in
Roma settlements, extend the application of the Roma Housing and Social
Integration Programme to all communities concerned, effectively enforce
anti-discrimination legislation in the housing sector, refrain from
distributing social housing through public auction at high prices; and
increase the availability of social housing, in particular for the

"… ensure that the rights of affected individuals, including children,
are safeguarded and that alternative housing is provided whenever forced
evictions take place, in line with the Committee's general comment No. 7
(1997), and to include disaggregated data on the extent of homelessness,
the number of forced evictions and arrangements for alternative housing
in its next periodic report";

"… strengthen preventive health care services and improve public
services, such as clean water, sewerage, waste disposal and sanitation,
particularly in Roma communities, and increase its efforts to address
poor nutrition, chronic stress and other factors contributing to the low
life expectancy of Roma";

"… intensify anti-discrimination campaigns and training of public and
private health care providers";

"… take effective measures to end inter- and intra-school segregation of
Roma children and to ensure that segregated pupils are mainstreamed into
the regular school system without delay; to enforce the prohibition of
segregation under the Equal Treatment Act and of limitations under the
Education Act on free school choice and on the proportion of severely
disadvantaged children per school"; 

"…provide effective incentives for integrated education; and to ensure
that every application for private student status is reviewed by an
independent child protection expert";

"… provide disaggregated data on enrolment, attendance and dropout rates
of Roma at all levels of education, as well as on the extent and the
forms of segregation, in its next periodic report";

"…include a specific section in its next periodic report on the results
of the measures taken to combat discrimination and enhance respect,
protection and fulfilment of economic, social and cultural rights of the
Roma under each of the Covenant rights" and 

"… include disaggregated data on an annual basis, as well as specific
benchmarks, to enable an adequate monitoring and evaluation of the
progress made in its next periodic report".

In the run-up to the Committee's review, the ERRC submitted a parallel
report, highlighting concerns in all areas noted above. The full report
is available on the ERRC's website in English at:

The ERRC, COHRE and the Pakiv European Roma Fund attended the Committee
hearing in May 2007 and provided Committee members with data and other
information on Roma, housing rights and other issues of relevance to
Committee review.

The full text of the CESCR Concluding Observations on Hungary is
available at:

For additional information, please contact: 

Savelina Danova, Research and Policy Coordinator, European Roma Rights
Ph. +36.1.413 22 00, savelina.danova@errc.org

Claude Cahn, Head of Advocacy Unit, Centre on Housing Rights and
Ph. +41. 22.734 10 28, claudecahn@cohre.org

The Centre on Housing Rights & Evictions (COHRE) is an international
human rights organisation committed to protecting and promoting the
right to housing. For more information on COHRE see www.cohre.org.

83 Rue Montbrillant
Geneva 1202
Tel: (41-22) 734-1028
Fax: (41-22) 733-1126
E-mail: cohre@cohre.org

The European Roma Rights Centre is an international public interest law
organisation which monitors the human rights situation 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 

To support the ERRC, please visit this link:

European Roma Rights Centre
1386 Budapest 62
P.O. Box 906/93
Tel: +36.1.413.2200

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