Commissioner for Fundamental Rights Takes a Stand in Relation to a Protracted Administrative Procedure

In addition to the violation of the fundamental requirement of legal certainty, a protracted administrative procedure caused an impropriety in relation to a child’s right to care and protection, the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights concluded in his report.

The petitioner turning to the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights complained about the procedure of the guardianship authority relating to the temporary placement of his minor child. In his petition, he explained that his child had been removed from the family by the guardianship authority as it had received an alert about a potential sexual abuse being committed against the child. The petitioner complained about the lengthiness of the administrative procedure, as a consequence of which his child had been put under temporary placement for more than 16 months.

In his report on Case No. AJB-1394/2020, Dr. Ákos Kozma pointed out with regard to the procedure concerning the temporary placement of the child that the Guardianship and Justice Division of the Szolnok District Office of the Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok County Government Office had committed a double omission. On the one hand, it failed to inform the competent prosecution services without delay about its decision on the temporary placement of the child, and on the other, it failed to collect sufficient information at the time of making its decision as to whether the petitioner had any relatives suitable and willing to temporarily take care of the petitioner’s child. These omissions contributed to the protraction of the procedure and made the situation of the child even more difficult. With regard to the decision of the Guardianship Authority of Törökszentmiklós concerning the review of the temporary placement of the child, the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights underlined that the guardianship authority had taken measures after the 60-day time limit prescribed by law, and nearly two additional months passed before the commencement of the action brought for the child’s placement with a third party.

In his report, the Ombudsman found that the four-year-old child had been heard by the authorities as many as four times within 16 months: on one occasion, she was interviewed by the psychologist of the Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok County Child Protection Expert Committee, while on the other occasions, she was heard by appointed forensic psychologic experts.

Dr. Ákos Kozma concluded that the situation subject to his inquiry not only violated the fundamental requirement of legal certainty, but it had also caused an impropriety in relation to the child’s right to care and protection.

The Commissioner for Fundamental Rights called upon the Minister of Justice to consider the amendment of the relevant piece of legislation in order to prevent the repeated hearing of a minor in the course of the forensic psychologic expert’s proceedings. The Ombudsman initiated that the Head of the Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok County Government Office convene an expert meeting in order to review and follow-up the lessons learnt from the petition in connection with the procedures of the guardianship authorities. Furthermore, he invited the Heads of the Törökszentmiklós and Szolnok District Offices of the Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok County Government Office to call the attention of the staff of the Administrative and Guardianship Unit and that of the Administrative Department to the importance of full compliance with the provisions of Act XXXI of 1997 on the protection of children and the guardianship administration.

For the report, please click on the following link: AJB-1394/2020.