Amnesty International Report 2011 – Hungary: some conclusions

By • on June 8, 2011

When comparing  the Reports made by Amnesty International about Hungary in 2010 and 2011, one can see telling differences, and not only regarding the content. The most striking difference is that, while in 2010 the representatives of the AI visited Hungary only once, they have no less than 4 visits to the country planned for 2011 (in January, February, March, and November). In January, they also took part in the protests against the new media law.

The lead of the earlier Report mentioned the violent attacks against Roma and the marches organised by the now-disbanded Hungarian Guard. The recent Annual Report contains a longer lead that focuses on the serious consequences of the change of political power, one of which being that Jobbik, the right wing political party, gained seats in the Parliament.: „The Roma continued to face violent attacks and discrimination and lived in a climate of fear. The police completed the investigation into a series of attacks against Roma in 2008 and 2009 and four suspects were charged. International human rights watchdogs raised concerns over the structural shortcomings of the response given by the  Hungarian criminal justice to hate crimes. And Romani children had been segregated in primary school.”  Unfortunately, the longer the lead, the more serious the criticism appears from the perspective of human rights.

The AI highlighted the growing discrimination against Roma, as well as the structural shortcomings of the Hungarian criminal justice system in dealing with hate crimes. Although the police arrested the suspects of the attacks against Gypsy families, the legal procedure has been taking a very long time.

The end of the lead informs the reader about how the system developed by the new government reinforces the segregation of Romani children in primary schools. According to education professionals, the integrated education of Roma and non-Roma pupils promotes the development of disadvantaged children, reduces the bias against the former, and does not cause any noticeable effects on other pupils. And the integration of the Roma population can take place only through  the integrated education.

Despite this insight, the City Council of Nyíregyháza – a town in the disadvantaged eastern periphery of  Hungary – decided to reopen the Roma school at the Huszár estate, which was closed in 2006. The Huszár estate is a territory inhabited mainly by Gypsies. According to the report of RSK’sRoma Page, in 2006, the Chance for Children Foundation (CFCF) initiated  infringement proceedings against the government because of the alleged violation of equal treatment, since the local authorites selected the Huszár estate school only for  Roma children.  One year later, however, the City Council ordered the closing of the segregated school, without waiting for the outcome of the trial. The pupils were displaced to six different schools. Now, the City Council recalls the earlier decision. The local Roma are afraid of discrimination. According to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education Dr. Csaba Sivadó, the school will be run by the Greek Catholic Church.The pupils attending that school as well as their parents must accept the Christian educational method. At the same time, the City Council decided to not to cover the travel expenses of Gypsy pupils any more. That means that if a Gypsy family can’t afford to buy a pass for its school age children, it can only choose the recently reopened notorious elementary school of the Huszár estate.

I bet that you will read more about the story in the 2012 Amnesty International report.