The 67th Congress of the FUEN (Federal Union of European Nationalities) took place in Pécs, from 7-10 September 2023. Fifteen years after the 2008 congress, the city hosted for the second time the largest meeting of European national minorities and linguistic communities. This year the event's Hungarian organising partner and host was the National Self-Government of the Germans in Hungary.
As Minority Ombudsman, I am concerned that in recent days, the occurrence of a previous tragic crime has been used repeatedly by some organisations to publish content on various social media platforms that clearly incites hatred against Roma citizens living in our country. The same organisations have also announced a demonstration that could be used to violate the human dignity of members of the Roma community and to create fear in them.
In a special workshop organised by the Minority Ombudsman and the Working Group on Hate Crime, national experts in the field discussed good practices on the protection of victims of hate crime. The event brought together judges, prosecutors, police officers, lawyers, the high-ranking officials of the Ministry of Justice, the Victim Support Centre, the National Institute of Criminology and NGOs to share their professional experiences and to summarise the current challenges in this field.
For 14 years now, 23 February has been the anniversary of an inconceivable barbaric crime, which induces all those of good conscience and responsibility to engage in remembrance and to self-reflection.
The 15th session of the UN Forum on Minorities, a key event in international minority protection, was held in Geneva with great interest. Every year, the Minority Ombudsman participates as a key expert at the UN Forum on Minorities, which took place from 30 November to 2 December this year at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
Human life and human dignity know no national boundaries, but their promotion and protection is the primary duty of States. State institutions and their representatives have a special responsibility to act in all their activities with due regard for international and constitutional guarantees of equal treatment and to act in the public service with respect for the human dignity of all members of society, irrespective of origin, national or ethnic affiliation or any other membership of a minority group. The International Day of Remembrance of the Roma Holocaust reminds us that acting against extremist views is also our common responsibility, so that the horrors of the Second World War are never repeated under any circumstances.
General Comment 1/2022 of the Minority Ombudsman reviews the complaints relating to the application for war care benefits: war invalid allowance, war widows’ benefit and former war invalid dependants’ benefit.
The Minority Ombudsman, Deputy State Secretary Katalin Victor Langerné and Government Commissioner Attila Sztojka visited three settlements in Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County, where they learned about the situation of Roma people fleeing from Ukraine, the services and challenges they face.
An NGO has requested the intervention of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights because of a disproportionate number of infringement proceedings for unjustified school absences in a municipality in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén county. This practice, according to the organisation, has targeted families with many children, living in extreme poverty, most of them of Roma origin, who often have serious difficulties in paying the fines, and the conversion of unpaid fines into detention has also endangered the care and provision of their children. In addition to the general complaint, the petitioner also asked for an investigation into a family with several children, as the mother of ten children had been the subject of 17 infringement proceedings during the period under review.
The Minority Ombudsman launched an investigation into the case, which also raises systemic problems.
8 April is a worldwide celebration of the values of Roma culture. However, in recent years – and also this year – the whole world has experienced and is experiencing crises unprecedented in decades, and it is therefore essential that, in addition to highlighting the importance of Roma culture, we also draw attention to current social challenges on this day.