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.
Since the beginning of my mandate as Minority Ombudsman, I have paid special attention to the local and national electoral procedures affecting the thirteen nationality communities in Hungary. As in previous years, I have focused particular attention to the 2022 parliamentary elections, including the first stage of the list-setting process, which closed on 31 January.
I would like to express my sympathy and support to the entire Ukrainian nationality community living in Hungary for the aggression against Ukraine and its consequences. I am convinced that only the preservation of our humanity, unconditional respect for human rights and cooperation without national and ethnic stigmatisation of our neighbours will enable us to overcome all difficulties!
The Roma Youth Conference, organized in cooperation by the European Youth Centre Budapest, Phiren Amenca and the National Youth Council, took place on 8 November, with the aim of strengthening the social participation and the participation in public life of Roma young people.
On October 12 and 13, 2021, the UN Human Rights Council and the Tom Lantos Institute hosted the European Regional Forum on Human Rights of Minorities and Conflict Prevention online, in which the Minority Ombudsman participated as a key professional participant.
The Minority Ombudsman attended an event organized by the Holocaust Memorial Center, the Roma Holocaust Memorial Committee and the Ministry of Interior on the occasion of the Roma Holocaust Memorial Day (August 2) and was the principal patron of the Roma Holocaust Memorial Day organized by the National Roma Self-Government.
The Minority Ombudsman also participated in the international conference organised on the occasion of the Hungarian Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, where she gave a presentation on the current trends in the protection of the rights of nationalities living in Hungary and the possibilities for further action.
Since 2004, the ombudsmen of the Visegrad countries have met annually to share their experiences, current achievements and challenges in their work, and to present their recent practice. The theme of this year's summit was "The role of ombudsmen in protecting the rights of the most vulnerable groups in society during the Covid-19 pandemic".
The Minority Ombudsman and her colleagues participated in the 6th Transylvanian Lawyers' Meeting, organised by the Institute of Law of the Faculty of Law of Sapientia Hungarian University of Transylvania Cluj-Napoca and the Hungarian Lawyers' Association of Transylvania.
The International Conference on Non-Territorial Autonomy as an Instrument for Effective Participation of Minorities kicked off on 24 September with an opening address by the Minority Ombudsman. The event was hosted by Balázs Vizi, Senior Fellow of TK KI, with special guests Olivia Schubert, Vice President of the National Self-Government of Germans in Hungary and Francesco Palermo, Head of Eurac Research, former Senior Expert and Professor at COE and OSCE.
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.