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.

On 21 May 2020, the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights, acting in his competence as OPCAT National Preventive Mechanism (NPM), paid a visit to the Aszód Juvenile Reformatory, Primary School, Vocational School and Special School of the Ministry of Human Capacities (hereinafter: the “Reformatory”), with two of his colleagues.

With regard to the state of danger declared by Government Decree No. 40/2020 (III. 11.), the Ombudsman paid an announced visit, the goal of which was to control the measures taken for the prevention of the spreading of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as to look into the changes generated by the ordered restrictions such as the ban on visitation and the curfew, among the youngsters sentenced to education in a reformatory institution. During the on-site inspection, the members of the visiting group wore protective equipment, they reviewed the conditions of placement, and the possibility for isolation, which they found appropriate.

In his report on Case No. AJB-2799/2020, Dr Ákos Kozma exposed that the pupils had been classified in eight groups, with a maximum of eight persons in each. In the case of all the groups, there were sufficient supervisors. In three groups, including the integration and the psycho-pedagogical ones, there were more supervisors than obligatory, which made it possible for the pupils to receive adequate support for integration, overcoming their disadvantages in socialisation and other areas but there were some groups in which the number of supervisors did not reach the number required by law.

The Ombudsman recorded that the state of danger had caused no interruption in the reception and release procedures at the Reformatory. In his view, however, it is only acceptable with regard to the pandemic situation that the pupils had not left the integration group after one month. Education and activities were resumed without any interruption at the internal school and the workshops. At the time of the visit, 54% of the pupils who were present (24) received schooling, they were fully occupied. In order to ensure that the employees of the Reformatory are able to accomplish all this, a high amount of overtime was put in generally as well, and some teachers, supervisors and instructors, whose number was also lower than required, worked an amount of overtime that already raises concerns. The high number of overtime hours may result in burnout, it jeopardises the mental and physical well-being of the employees, furthermore, it may exert a negative effect on the treatment of the pupils.

The Commissioner for Fundamental Rights concluded that cleaning, washing, disinfecting efforts were made more frequent during the epidemic, for which a sufficient amount of disinfectants and cleaning supplies were available. The pupils were well-informed about the pandemic and its prevention, they understood the factors contributing to the need for the introduction of disinfecting rules and the ban on visitation. However, several of them signalled that they had become moretense due to this situation. In order to release tension, the management of the Reformatory ensured diverse sports activities and increased telephoning time for them. In relation to the restrictions that became necessary in the pandemic situation, the pupils made no complaints, and they did not commit any disciplinary offences either.

For the report, please click on the following link: AJB-2799/2020.