Concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination : Hungary. 11/01/2002.
A/57/18,paras.367-390. (Concluding Observations/Comments)

Convention Abbreviation: CERD
Committee on the Elimination of
Racial Discrimination
Sixty-first session
5-23 August 2002


367. The Committee considered the fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth periodic reports of Hungary (CERD/C/431/Add.1), due on 4 January 1996, 1998, 2000 and 2002, respectively, submitted in one document, at its 1541st and 1542nd meetings (CERD/C/SR.1541 and 1542), held on 15 and 16 August 2002. At its 1551st meeting (CERD/C/SR.1551) held on 22 August 2002, it adopted the following concluding observations.
A. Introduction

368. The Committee welcomes with satisfaction the consolidated report of Hungary, as well as the additional oral and written information provided by the State party. The Committee expresses its appreciation for the attendance of a high-ranking delegation, including members of minorities, and for the constructive dialogue which the Committee was able to have with the State party.
B. Positive aspects

369. The Committee welcomes the commitment to human rights manifested by Hungary through the adoption of a series of legal provisions promoting and protecting human rights, the establishment of relevant institutions and the implementation of pertinent programmes in this field.

370. The Committee reiterates, in particular, its satisfaction at the promulgation and implementation of Act LXXVII of 1993 on the Rights of National and Ethnic Minorities, which recognizes 13 minorities and provides them with a degree of cultural autonomy, as well as a wide range of educational and linguistic rights, and sets up a system of minority self-governments.

371. The Committee also welcomes the introduction of new provisions into the Criminal Code through Act XVII of 1996, in particular article 174/B penalizing violence against members of national, ethnic or racial minorities and religious groups. The Committee notes the positive elements incorporated in Law Decree No. 11 of 1997 modernizing certain provisions of the Rules on the Enforcement of Punishment, with a view to prohibiting discrimination among convicted persons and to ensuring the basic rights of foreign convicted persons, and in Act CX of 1999 amending the Code of Civil Procedure so as to reinforce the principle that no one shall be discriminated against because of lack of knowledge of the Hungarian language.

372. The Committee further welcomes the positive elements incorporated in section 93 of Act LXIX of 1993 on the Law on Minor Offences dealing with discrimination against employees; in Act XVI of 2001 on the amendment of the Labour Code defining, in particular, “indirect discrimination” and affirming the principle of affirmative action; in Act I of 1996 on Radio and Television Broadcasting, aiming at preventing hate speech and discrimination on racial, national and ethnic grounds; as well as in Act CXXXIX of 1997 on Asylum, as amended, abrogating geographical restrictions concerning asylum-seekers.

373. The Committee commends the activities of the Parliamentary Commissioner for National and Ethnic Minority Rights and of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Civil Rights and takes note with appreciation of the recent establishment and activities of many other human rights institutions and administrative bodies, in particular for promoting the rights and interests of Roma.
C. Concerns and recommendations

374. While noting the above efforts, the Committee expresses concern at persisting intolerance and discrimination, especially in relation to the Roma minority, as well as at xenophobic manifestations against immigrants, refugees and asylum-seekers.

375. Noting that the Government of Hungary is working on a comprehensive anti-discrimination law, the Committee encourages the State party to complete its efforts as soon as possible, taking into account the United Nations Model National Legislation for the Guidance of Governments in the Enactment of Further Legislation against Racial Discrimination as well as the Committee’s general recommendations, in particular general recommendation XXVII concerning discrimination against Roma.

376. Further to decision No. 12/1999 (V.21) of the Hungarian Constitutional Court which annulled part of section 269 of the Criminal Code punishing incitement to hatred, the State party committed itself to enacting the necessary provisions to prohibit hate speech. The Committee expresses concern that the existing legislation does not cover all aspects of article 4 of the Convention. The Committee recalls its general recommendations VII and XV which stress, inter alia, the mandatory character of this provision and recommends the adoption of further amendments to the Hungarian Criminal Code to encompass all those aspects, including the prohibition of organizations and activities mentioned in article 4 (b) of the Convention.

377. Furthermore, the Committee requests that the next periodic report provide specific information on the application by the national courts of article 174/B of the Criminal Code and of all other relevant provisions to give effect to article 4 of the Convention. The Committee also recommends that the State party pursue and extend training programmes for judges and prosecutors aiming at sensitizing them to discrimination issues.

378. The Committee is concerned about the number of allegations of ill-treatment and discrimination against the Roma and non-citizens by law enforcement officials, especially the police. The Committee notes that the “Medium-Term Package of Measures to Improve the Living Conditions and Social Position of the Roma Population”, as revised, contains a section on police behaviour in connection with members of the Roma minority. The Committee is aware, however, that the above practices have not ceased.

379. The Committee recommends that the State party intensify its efforts to combat ill-treatment of Roma and non-citizens by the police, especially through the strict application of relevant legislation and regulations providing for sanctions, adequate training and instructions to be given to law enforcement bodies and the sensitization of the judiciary. The State party should also consider recruiting more members of minority groups, especially of the Roma minority, to serve in law enforcement bodies and strengthening the existing legal aid system for alleged victims, as well as empowering parliamentary commissioners to investigate allegations of ill-treatment and discrimination by the police.

380. The Committee is concerned at the prevailing conditions in refugee shelters and the conditions of detention of undocumented immigrants. Noting the efforts of the State party in this respect, the Committee strongly encourages the Hungarian authorities to further improve the existing facilities so that they meet international standards and to provide relevant information thereon in the next periodic report.

381. The Committee expresses concern at the fact that minorities are under-represented in Parliament. The Committee appreciates the fact that the State party is considering amending existing legislation so as to ensure better parliamentary representation of minorities and encourages it to proceed in this direction.

382. The Committee notes that, notwithstanding the measures provided for in the “Medium-Term Package of Measures”, the drop-out rates among Roma students remain high, especially in secondary education and even more so at university level. The Committee strongly recommends that the State party reconsider its policy of assigning Roma children to schools and classes for the mentally disabled. The Committee is also concerned about discriminatory practices resulting from the system of separate classes for Roma students and from private schooling arrangements. While noting that the State party intends to improve the education of Roma, the Committee further recommends that new programmes integrate Roma children into mainstream schools as far as possible, in order to avoid discrimination.

383. The Committee is concerned at the disproportionately higher unemployment rate among the Roma population. The Committee recommends that the State party strictly apply existing anti-discriminatory provisions in that field and ensure in particular that Roma have fair access to professional training programmes and professional activities.

384. The Committee is concerned that the Roma population is disproportionately subjected to discrimination in respect of housing and, in particular, to forced eviction. The Committee recommends that the State party take further positive measures to effectively address the issue of discrimination with regard to housing.

385. The Committee expresses concern about discriminatory practices against persons belonging to the Roma minority in respect of access to public places such as restaurants, bars and cafés. The Committee recommends that the State party continue to intensify its efforts to combat such behaviour and raise the awareness of the population about all aspects of racial discrimination.

386. The Committee is also concerned about the possible discriminatory effects in the socio-economic field of Act LXII of 2001 on “Hungarians living in neighbouring countries” and requests that the State party provide information about the content and application of this law in its next periodic report.

387. The Committee recommends that the State party take into account the relevant parts of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action when implementing the Convention in the domestic legal order, in particular in respect of articles 2 to 7 of the Convention, and that it include in its next periodic report information on action plans or other measures taken to implement the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action at the national level.

288. The Committee recommends that the State party ratify the amendments to article 8, paragraph 6, of the Convention, adopted on 15 January 1992 at the Fourteenth Meeting of States Parties to the Convention and endorsed by the General Assembly in its resolution 47/111.

389. The Committee recommends that the State party’s reports be made readily available to the public, including in the national language, from the time they are submitted and that the Committee’s concluding observations on them be similarly publicized.

390. The Committee recommends that the State party submit its eighteenth periodic report, due on 4 January 2004, that it be an updating report, and that it address the points raised in the present concluding observations.

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