MINELRES: Hungarian Rights Groups Denounce Anti-Romani Statements by Hungarys Parliamentary Commissioner for Civil Rights

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Mon Apr 6 20:57:01 2009

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

Hungarian Rights Groups Denounce Anti-Romani Statements by Hungary’s
Parliamentary Commissioner for Civil Rights  

Budapest, 3 April 2009: On 2 April 2009, Dr Mate Szabo, Parliamentary
Commissioner for Civil Rights, stated in an interview with the online
news portal FigyeloNet, amongst other things, that “criminality
categorised on an ethnic basis” – “Gypsy crime” – exists, identifying it
as a type of crime performed to earn a living. He also referred to Roma
as being “a collectivist, almost tribal level social group,” comparing
them to the individualist Hungarian society. Furthermore, Dr Szabo
stated that the attention of the majority society should be drawn to the
existence of this specific criminal profile; he also presented himself
as the Parliamentary Commissioner of the majority in contrast with the
Parliamentary Commissioner for the Rights of National and Ethnic
Minorities – thus openly suggesting that he does not regard himself as a
representative of members of the Roma minority.

These statements, indicating that the Parliamentary Commissioner
presumes a direct connection between ethnicity and criminal acts, are
irreconcilable with the prohibition of discrimination as defined by the
Constitution of the Republic of Hungary. The statements are
discriminatory and harm the dignity of members of the Romani community.

A statement issued later by Dr Szabo held that the title of the article
in which the interview was published misrepresented his statements, even
though the above statements are unacceptable and can and should be
interpreted on their own, regardless of the title of the article. The
Parliamentary Commissioner also did not withdraw his statements.
Therefore, the signatories consider that Dr Szabo continues to regard
them as valid.

It is the duty and obligation of the Parliamentary Commissioner for
Civil Rights to secure the constitutional rights of all individuals and
groups who come into contact with the institutions of the Republic of
Hungary, regardless of whether they belong to the majority or any
minority group in society. In light of the above quoted statements, the
signatories believe that Dr Szabo is no longer able to fulfill the
function of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Civil Rights with


Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC)

Legal Defence Bureau for National and Ethnic Minorities (NEKI)

Chance for Children Foundation (CFCF)

Roma Civil Rights Foundation (RPA)

European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC)


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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