Anti-discrimination Lawsuit Against the Leadership of a Hungarian City

Miskolc, the third largest city in Hungary has been openly against its Roma inhabitants for the past few years. Discriminative measures have been carried out and the municipality’s communication is hostile and stigmatizing.

The Hungarian Ombudsperson and various organizations have found that the municipality discriminates against its Roma inhabitants. Still, the leadership of the city is not willing to change their methods. Based on these rights violations the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union and the Legal Defense Bureau for National and Ethnic Minorities filed a lawsuit against the municipality of Miskolc, the mayor’s office and the municipality police.

Miskolc has approximately 170.000 inhabitants. Based on the census data of 2011 and complementary estimations, around 13.500 persons live in 13 different segregated settlements, slums in the city. Eighty to ninety percent of the persons living in these segregated slums are of Roma origin. The long-term unemployment rate among the population of the slums is very high; the dwellings are of extremely poor quality.

Over the past few years the municipality of Miskolc has been openly hostile towards its Roma inhabitants. Instead of finding ways to solve the problem of extreme poverty and unemployment, the local government is taking discriminatory measures, and is hostile towards the Roma people. Amongst others, the Miskolc Municipality Police (MMP) has been frequently conducting raid-like inspections in the segregated neighborhood of the city as well as carrying out illegal practices such as eradicating one of the slums called “Numbered Streets” without providing further alternative housing for the inhabitants.

According to the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union and the Legal Defense Bureau for National and Ethnic Minorities, these measures, together with the communication method of the municipality, are violating the right to equal treatment as well as raising prejudice against minorities. 

Therefore, they decided to sue the municipality of Miskolc, the mayor’s office and the municipality police for violations of personality rights. According to the legal defenders the discriminatory measures and hostile communications carried out by these authorities are not only harassing the people living in segregated settlements, but also violating the principle of equal treatment.

In the lawsuit, the legal defenders are asking the court to state that a violation of law has occurred and to impose a penalty of 10 million HUF.

The Hungarian Ombudsperson’s comprehensive investigation ascertained the coordinated nature of the joint inspections and their planning, organization, and execution violated the principle of equal treatment. Even though the Ombudsperson stated almost two years ago that these practices must be immediately stopped, the raids are still going on. That is why the civil rights NGOs had no other choice but to take legal action and file a lawsuit in order to force the municipality of Miskolc to abide the law. The municipality had been warned every possible way, but the leadership of the city still refuses to change these practices, which is unacceptable.

While the first trial was held in June 2016, the second trial is delayed until 31 March this year.

Readership: Kenneth Baldonieri 

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