null "Interview techniques for vulnerable groups" – international OPCAT workshop

This year's second meeting of the OPCAT South East Europe National Preventive Mechanism Network took place on 29-30 September 2021, hosted by the Office of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights. The two-day event focused on presentations and panel discussions on interviewing techniques and tools for vulnerable groups.

Participants were welcomed by Ombudsman, Dr. Ákos Kozma, who underlined in his speech that "in every country and culture in the world, the supervision of closed institutions is a major challenge. It is a way of protecting the rights of the most vulnerable. It is therefore a job that can only be done with total dedication."

In his introductory presentation, the Minority Ombudsman put the process into a broader context: the epidemic has made the situation of vulnerable groups in society more difficult than usual in economic, infrastructural and enforcement terms, and the change has particularly affected those living in closed institutions, who may have special characteristics beyond those mentioned above. It is not by chance that the workshop highlighted four of these: refugees, people of ethnicity, people with psychosocial disabilities, children and members of the LGBTQ community face challenges that require specific expertise to assess and address. Professionals working with people from vulnerable groups need to carry out their tasks with the utmost care, and their professionalism, empathy and humanity are needed more than ever. She also pointed to the fact that, although interviewing techniques are a very narrow and specific professional aspect of the work of the National Preventive Mechanisms, interviews are a key tool for laying the foundations of the core activity: without face-to-face meetings with people in closed institutions, the mission of OPCAT cannot be fulfilled at all. 


During the panel discussions over the two days, participants sought to explore the most sensitive aspects of interviewing vulnerable people, discussing the problems encountered and possible solutions, as well as different interview techniques and good practices, sharing their own experiences on the subject.

Pursuant to the Act on the proclamation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT), the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights acts as the National Preventive Mechanism (NMM) in Hungary from 1 January 2015, either in person or through his staff. In the framework of the NMM, the Ombudsman inspects prisons, police detention centres, homes for the disabled, children's homes and homes for the elderly.