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.
The proceedings of the guardianship office of first instance and that of second instance, along with the latter’s interpretation of the law – which caused an impropriety related to the right to fair administration of official matters – violated the requirement of legal certainty and the principle of the best interests of the child. By their effects, they were also liable to cause an impropriety related to the child’s right to protection and care, as well as to pose an imminent danger thereto, Ombudsman Dr. Ákos Kozma concluded.
A protracted proceeding of the guardianship office of second instance concerning the school change of children caused an impropriety related to the right to fair administration of official matters. It violated the requirement of legal certainty and the principle of the best interests of the child, and, by its effects, it was also capable of causing an impropriety related to the children’s right to protection and care, as well as of posing an imminent danger thereto, Commissioner for Fundamental Rights Dr. Ákos Kozma concluded.
Ombudsman Dr Ákos Kozma convened the Civil Consultative Body supporting the performance of the tasks of the OPCAT National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) in an online form, with regard to the coronavirus pandemic, which held its sessions on 10 and 11 December 2020.
Showing respect for human rights and thereby paying attention to one another and our community have never been so important as during the current coronavirus pandemic and the challenges entailed by it. On the occasion of Human Rights Day, Commissioner for Fundamental Rights Dr. Ákos Kozma, Deputy Commissioner, Ombudsman for the Rights of National Minorities Dr. Elisabeth Sándor-Szalay, and Deputy Commissioner, Ombudsman for Future Generations Dr. Gyula Bándi emphasise that humanity, solidarity, setting an example, and supporting our communities big and small are those foundations which human rights can rest upon.
Traffic information should be provided to passengers in compliance with the right to a healthy environment, concluded the Ombudsman. Fully accepting the life-protecting function and inevitability of audio passenger information, Dr Ákos Kozma requested MÁV Zrt’s (Hungarian State Railway) President-CEO to order a comprehensive inspection with regard to the passenger information equipment of Balatonszéplak-felső railway station, to find out whether it is justified to communicate all the currently provided traffic information through a loudspeaker during the night, in the interests of those living in the vicinity of the stations and stops.