The felling licences for the trees and bushes in the northern part of Kossuth Square in Budapest were issued without regard to the guarantees of publicity, transparency and legal certainty. On the initiative of the Deputy Commissioner responsible for the interests of future generations Ombudsman Máté Szabó has inquired into the circumstances.
It should not be of a coercive or punitive nature. There should be unified legal regulation, including that of the wages. Social security entitlements should be included. These are, among others, the points raised by the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights with the competent Minister in connection with the employment of convicted persons, mandatory since 1 January.
Legal regulation is incomplete, and the existing rules are unclear. There is no unified practice for collecting data, no common understanding on definitions, nor are there well-defined obligations for which anyone could be held accountable and through which the State, families and civil society organisations could decrease the number of missing children. In a comprehensive, ex officio investigation the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights has asked those responsible about the reasons for children missing or playing truant, about the ways of prevention and intervention, about the measures taken to deal with the children concerned, and about how professionals working in the field see these problems.
The Ombudsman does not agree with the proposed Bill that aims to prevent truancy with law enforcement measures and would make it possible that educational institutions employ school guards empowered to apply even physical coercion. Máté Szabó requests that the draft be rewritten.
There is no matrimonial property between partners and they are not obliged to maintain each other or each others' children. In the case of spouses there is an obligation of maintenance and that is the reason why the level of family allowance is determined differently in case of spouses and partners raising each others' children. This was the argument of the Minister of National Resources, who rejected the Ombudsman's repeated proposal, that equal treatment of the two relationships be established by amending the relevant Act.
The Commissioner for Fundamental Rights requested the Constitutional Court to examine and annul certain Provisions of the Media Law because the rules on the election and the termination of the mandate of the Hungarian Media Authority and of the President of the Media Council raise concern on several points.
The Commissioner for Fundamental Rights has followed up the implementation of his recommendations made pursuant to his inquiry four years ago in the prison of young delinquents in Tököl. One more psychologist has been added to the staff, but more would be needed. The inmates can now have a shower every day, which is an improvement, but it is an inadmissible practice that convicts of younger age are allowed to smoke in their cells.
As for the recommendations the Ombudsman made one year and a half ago on the conditions in the hospital of Tököl, the addresses have partly agreed to implement the proposed measures.
The stipulation of secrecy has been eliminated from the current oath of lawyers, which is contrary to Hungarian legal traditions; furthermore, it can destabilise the confidence-based relationship between clients and lawyers – the Ombudsman has found in the first report of his comprehensive inquiry into the profession of lawyers. Moreover, the fact that the oath confuses public law officials and lawyers working in the private sphere gives the impression that members of the profession of lawyers form part of the body of civil servants.
The practice of the penal authorities enabling them to listen in, for control purposes, into the phone conversations of detainees and their lawyers, directly endangered the right to defence of persons in pre-trial detention – the Ombudsman found in his report of last year. Following several exchanges of letters, the national commander of the penal authorities accepted the recommendation of the Commissioner and instructed his subordinates to terminate such controls.
The encoding method employed by the Hungarian Central Statistical Office (hereinafter referred to as ‘Statistical Office') is contradictory and not properly elaborated, which involves the risk that, when the data of the population census of 2011 is processed, not everybody will be counted towards that nationality or linguistic community to which they wish to belong according their declaration. Ombudsman Máté Szabó proposes therefore that the working group of experts systematising the code numbers should start its work as soon as possible.
The mandatory conditions of student contracts laid down in a rule of law, in particular the regulation that provides for a long and general obligation to perform work in Hungary, constitute a disproportionate restriction of rights. The Commissioner for Fundamental Rights therefore requested the Constitutional Court to examine whether the government decree on student contracts is compatible with the guarantees laid down in the Fundamental Law.
The provision of the Regulatory Offences Act making it possible to order confinement and detention for regulatory offences is contrary to the Fundamental Law and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which has been promulgated in Hungary. Since, in spite of previous warnings by the Ombudsman, the new Regulatory Offences Act, effective as of 15 April, still allows the above sanctions, the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights has requested the Constitutional Court to review certain provisions of the Act.