THE OMBUDSMAN TURNS TO THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT TO PROTECT THE RIGHTS OF THE HOMELESS

The Ombudsman turns to the Constitutional Court to protect the rights of the homeless people

 

According to the views of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Civil Rights, the new regulation (the Act on the shaping and protection of built environment, 2010) enables the use of boarder police actions on public places against homeless people - thus criminalizing the homeless people – cannot match the Hungarian constitutional and the European human rights norms.

By the modification in 2011 of the Act on the shaping and protection of built environment authorities, the local government lists the purpose of the usage of public areas and sanctions the improper use of public areas. Referring to this guideline, the City Council of Budapest adopted a new regulation in May, 2011, to inflict a fine on those living (and storing his/her belongings) at public places permanently. The 2011 December amendment of the Infringement Law was adapted to this previously mentioned regulation making possible to sanction the repeated violation of the rule by payment of 150 000 HUF (app. 500 Euro) or by detention.

The Ombudsman already stated in his 2011 July report that such regulation gives room for too broad interpretation and authorization for local governments to sanction the improper use of public places and thus it infringes the constitutional rights and human dignity of the relevant vulnerable group.

Such regulations and sanctions are neither effective nor preventive but only suitable for further discrimination and humiliation of these people. Living on the streets is the result of a serious social crises situation and generally it does not depend upon the free choice of the individual. Homeless people have no own private sphere and other alternative than living on the streets.

He calls the attention of the decision makers that the concrete provisions of the infringement laws make it possible to perform sanctions against those who break the basic requirements of human coexistence (e.g. littering and riotous persons).

The Ombudsman requested the Minister for Internal Affairs to revise and amend the criticized provisions of the Act on the Shaping and Protection of Built Environment, and the City Council of Budapest to annul the relevant parts of its regulation based upon the Act. Since the ombudsman has requested the revision of the regulation in vain, he turned to the Constitutional Court and initiated a constitutional review and the abolishment of the regulation.