The Minority Ombudsman and the association Res Iudicata - Judges for Social Consciousness are active participants in and committed supporters of the identification of access to justice issues and the development of jurisprudence through their domestic and international activities. Ensuring equal access to justice for members of vulnerable social groups, in particular children, people with disabilities, Roma or refugees, is a challenge for legislators from both a substantive and procedural perspective and requires daily attention from law enforcement officials. The phenomenon of unequal access is present in many countries across Europe, regardless of the legal context, but there are significant differences in the needs of different groups and in the tools available to compensate for them. The current social and technical challenges, in addition to the structural problems, have led to a wide range of legal and social science actors being involved in the issue and have inspired a number of solutions that can compensate for the inequality.
With this in mind, they organised an international professional conference on 8 December 2023 at the Office of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights, with the participation of national and international experts, to present the problems and emerging opportunities in the field, in order to stimulate professional dialogue and to provide an opportunity to raise public awareness and strengthen solidarity with vulnerable groups in society.
The 67th Congress of the FUEN (Federal Union of European Nationalities) took place in Pécs, from 7-10 September 2023. Fifteen years after the 2008 congress, the city hosted for the second time the largest meeting of European national minorities and linguistic communities. This year the event's Hungarian organising partner and host was the National Self-Government of the Germans in Hungary.
As Minority Ombudsman, I am concerned that in recent days, the occurrence of a previous tragic crime has been used repeatedly by some organisations to publish content on various social media platforms that clearly incites hatred against Roma citizens living in our country. The same organisations have also announced a demonstration that could be used to violate the human dignity of members of the Roma community and to create fear in them.
In a special workshop organised by the Minority Ombudsman and the Working Group on Hate Crime, national experts in the field discussed good practices on the protection of victims of hate crime. The event brought together judges, prosecutors, police officers, lawyers, the high-ranking officials of the Ministry of Justice, the Victim Support Centre, the National Institute of Criminology and NGOs to share their professional experiences and to summarise the current challenges in this field.
For 14 years now, 23 February has been the anniversary of an inconceivable barbaric crime, which induces all those of good conscience and responsibility to engage in remembrance and to self-reflection.
The 15th session of the UN Forum on Minorities, a key event in international minority protection, was held in Geneva with great interest. Every year, the Minority Ombudsman participates as a key expert at the UN Forum on Minorities, which took place from 30 November to 2 December this year at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
Human life and human dignity know no national boundaries, but their promotion and protection is the primary duty of States. State institutions and their representatives have a special responsibility to act in all their activities with due regard for international and constitutional guarantees of equal treatment and to act in the public service with respect for the human dignity of all members of society, irrespective of origin, national or ethnic affiliation or any other membership of a minority group. The International Day of Remembrance of the Roma Holocaust reminds us that acting against extremist views is also our common responsibility, so that the horrors of the Second World War are never repeated under any circumstances.
General Comment 1/2022 of the Minority Ombudsman reviews the complaints relating to the application for war care benefits: war invalid allowance, war widows’ benefit and former war invalid dependants’ benefit.
The Minority Ombudsman, Deputy State Secretary Katalin Victor Langerné and Government Commissioner Attila Sztojka visited three settlements in Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County, where they learned about the situation of Roma people fleeing from Ukraine, the services and challenges they face.
An NGO has requested the intervention of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights because of a disproportionate number of infringement proceedings for unjustified school absences in a municipality in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén county. This practice, according to the organisation, has targeted families with many children, living in extreme poverty, most of them of Roma origin, who often have serious difficulties in paying the fines, and the conversion of unpaid fines into detention has also endangered the care and provision of their children. In addition to the general complaint, the petitioner also asked for an investigation into a family with several children, as the mother of ten children had been the subject of 17 infringement proceedings during the period under review.
The Minority Ombudsman launched an investigation into the case, which also raises systemic problems.