On 8 April, the values of Roma culture are celebrated all over the world. This year, however, just like last year when the pandemic broke out, we should exceptionally use this opportunity, in addition to highlighting the special significance of Roma culture, for drawing attention to the necessity of social solidarity. We should primarily emphasise that taking care of each other, as well as providing efficient practical support to the vulnerable social groups, including the Roma communities, are especially important in these difficult times.
The past year has been a major challenge for each and every one of us: what we used to consider extraordinary has virtually become the norm. Nevertheless, in these times, we must not forget about those people who live with autism and those families who raise children with autism. What we do not know enough about usually makes us terrified, but learning about new perspectives, including that of people living with autism, can enrich us all. This small change in our attitude can make a big difference for those affected.
The conditions of care provided to children living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at the Care Home for Persons with Disabilities of the Heves County “Harmónia” United Social Care Institution are worrisome, the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights concluded in his report. Dr. Ákos Kozma asked the competent Ministry to intervene in order to remedy the specific problems as well as the systemic deficiencies revealed.
The protection of water resources as a natural treasure is our collective duty, pointed out Dr. Ákos Kozma, Commissioner for Fundamental Rights and Dr. Gyula Bándi, Deputy Commissioner, Ombudsman for Future Generations in their joint statement issued on World Water Day. Acting as proprietor and trustee, the State conveys values via the legal regulation, which shapes the possibilities for water use and protection, thereby exerting a significant influence on the living conditions of present and future generations.
The equality of women, the respect of their human dignity, and the attention to their special status is not a gift but rather an everyday task. The rights of women surpass the closed system of a codex: the strength of a society, the scale of solidarity depends on how our communities regard those human rights that specifically women are entitled to. Among the current challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic, all the above are particularly important. Good answers can be given to women’s rights-related questions predominantly based on universal human values, reminds dr. Ákos Kozma, the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights of Hungary on the occasion of the International Women’s Day.
Based on complaints lodged by parents, the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights reviewed the procedure regarding the handling of requests to postpone starting school comprehensively, as well as the questions related to the practical implementation thereof, from both a fundamental rights and a children’s rights perspective. In his report, Ombudsman Dr. Ákos Kozma found numerous improprieties regarding the method of the implementation of the new procedure and the direct and indirect effects thereof, the uncertainties in the legal regulation, as well as the conduct of the Educational Authority and the expert committees involved, and he formulated recommendations for the competent ministry.
Based on the information that appeared in the press, as well as warnings from some of the MPs, with regard to the gravity of the concerns, Ombudsman Dr Ákos Kozma launched an ex officio inquiry into the operation of the Kalocsa Children’s Home, Primary School and Vocational School of the Special Children’s Home Centre, Primary School and Vocational School of the Ministry of Human Capacities, in order to clarify the circumstances.
According to the provisions set out in Act CXXVII of 2020 adopted by the National Assembly, as of 1 January 2021, the responsibilities of the Equal Treatment Authority are taken over by the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights. In cases concerning equal treatment and the promotion of equal opportunities, the Ombudsman will proceed within the framework of administrative authority procedures, in accordance with the relevant procedural rules. Clients can turn to the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights in these matters in the usual ways.
At the Guarded Refugee Reception Centre of the Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County Police Headquarters, the unit appropriate for quarantining and isolating infected persons, which had been set up for detainees, was able to ensure proper placement for those affected throughout the pandemic. At the same time, Ombudsman Dr. Ákos Kozma found that the fact that detainees affected by health problems were not examined by a physician caused an impropriety related to the right to physical health. Moreover, due to the uncertainty of the outcome of the proceedings conducted by the aliens policing authority, and to their isolation from their families, the detainees were in poor psychological condition, which led to an impropriety related to their right to mental health.
In response to the challenges of the health crisis, the management of the Tamási Police Department satisfied the requirements aimed at the protection of both the detainees and the staff in the facilities affected by the execution of police apprehension, and adequately ensured the conditions that guarantee the enforcement of the detainees’ rights even under the circumstances of the health crisis, concluded Commissioner for Fundamental Rights Dr. Ákos Kozma.
At the Szombathely National Prison, the elderly and chronically ill detainees, belonging to the high-risk group for COVID–19 infection, were placed on one floor, separately from other detainees, for the purpose of their protection, and the time spent outdoors with physical activities was increased by one hour per day, taking advantage of the characteristics of the facility, Ombudsman Dr. Ákos Kozma concluded. All these measures were qualified as good practices by the OPCAT National Preventive Mechanism.
The pupils did not make any complaints, and committed no disciplinary offences because of the necessary restrictions, they were well-informed about the pandemic and its prevention, they understood the factors contributing to the need for the introduction of disinfection rules and the ban on visitation. For these pupils, diverse sports activities and increased telephoning time were ensured by the Aszód Juvenile Reformatory, Primary School, Vocational School and Special School of the Ministry of Human Capacities, as was established by Commissioner for Fundamental Rights Dr Ákos Kozma.