MINELRES: Hungary provides compensation to coercively sterilised Romani Woman

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Mon Mar 2 18:18:02 2009

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

Hungary provides compensation to coercively sterilised Romani Woman
Budapest, 24 February 2009. During a parliamentary session today, MP
Jozsef Gulyas posed a question to the Hungarian Prime Minister regarding
the coercive sterilisation of a Romani woman, Ms A.S. The State
Secretary of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour, Mr. Lajos
Korozs, responded that the Ministry shall provide financial compensation
to her.

The ERRC and the Legal Defence Bureau for National and Ethnic Minorities
(NEKI) welcome this decision of the Hungarian Government as an important
acknowledgement of the seriousness of this human rights violation, and
of the importance of respecting the rights of women under international


On 2 January 2001, a Romani woman (Ms A.S.) was sterilised by doctors at
the Fehergyarmat hospital without her consent. During preparation for a
caesarian section operation to remove a dead foetus, Ms A.S. was asked
to sign forms giving her consent to this operation as well as to her
sterilisation. However the doctors did not explain the procedure, its
nature, possible risks, or what the consequences of being sterilised
would be. Only after the operation did Ms A.S. learn that she had been

On 15 October 2001, Ms A.S. and her attorney filed a civil claim for
damages against the hospital. On appeal, the Szabolcs-Szatmar-Bereg
County Court held that the hospital doctors had indeed acted
negligently, because they had not informed Ms A.S. of “the exact method
of the operation, of the risks of its performance, and of the possible
alternative procedures and methods”. Nevertheless, the same Court
concluded that since Ms A.S. had provided no proof that she had suffered
a lasting detriment, she was not entitled to compensation.

On 12 February 2004, the ERRC and the Legal Defence Bureau for National
and Ethnic Minorities (NEKI) jointly filed a complaint with CEDAW
relating to the illegal sterilisation under the CEDAW optional protocol.
In August 2006, the Committee found the Hungarian government to be in
violation of the Convention.[1] The Committee recommended the Hungarian
government provide appropriate compensation to Ms A.S.; review domestic
legislation on the principle of informed consent in cases of
sterilisation and ensure its conformity with international human rights
and medical standards; and monitor public and private health centres,
including hospitals and clinics that perform sterilisation procedures to
ensure that fully informed consent is given before any sterilisation
procedure is carried out.  A year later, the Committee expressed concern
at the Hungarian Government’s failure to implement the Committee’s
recommendations[2] and again urged the Hungarian government to “provide
appropriate compensation to Ms A.S.” [3]

In 2008, the Hungarian Government amended the Public Health Act to
ensure that appropriate information be provided to patients in the
context of sterilisation procedures to ensure informed consent. 
However, in March 2008 the Hungarian government advised the ERRC that it
would not provide compensation to Ms A.S. 

Today, after eight years of national and international legal
proceedings, the ERRC and NEKI welcome the State Secretary’s response on
the compensation of Ms A.S. 
Ostalinda Maya, ERRC’s Women’s Rights Officer, stated: “The offer of
compensation means not only justice to A.S. but the recognition by the
Government of Hungary of its obligations to all women under
international law.  It is an important step forward in ensuring respect
for the optional protocol of the CEDAW Convention.  We hope that
Hungary’s actions will serve as an example to other countries, like the
Czech Republic and Slovakia, where the problem of coercive sterilisation
still has not been fully addressed.”   

The ERRC and NEKI will monitor the implementation of the Government’s

For further information, contact:

Bea Bodrogi, Legal Defence Bureau for National and Ethnic Minorities
(NEKI), +36 30 606 1655

Judit Geller, European Roma Rights Centre, judit.geller@errc.org, +36 1
413 22 00

1. The full decision of the Committee can be found at

2.  The ERRC submitted a shadow report on the situation of Romani women
in Hungary that can be found at

3. The Committee’s concluding comments can be found at
Prior to this meeting of the Committee, the ERRC submitted a shadow
report on the situation of Romani women in Hungary that can be found at


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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