We Do Not Want Roma Here!

In response to the modification of housing rules aimed at relocating Roma people from Miskolc, Hungary, incredible regulations have been introduced by adjacent settlements by way of "self-defense."

Local governments in Hungary are trying to outdo each other by creating legal regulations with the actual, and often explicit, aim of getting rid of Hungarian citizens of Roma origin. Besides the obvious exclusionary attempt, the cynicism with which legality has been ensured deserves particular attention: it would take years to overrule the haphazardly fabricated discriminative regulations.

Sátoraljaújhely, a country town near Miskolc, has introduced incredible regulations through a municipal order that the local government describes as "self-defense." In a letter to the Government Office of BAZ County, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union has noted its concern related to the constitutionality and legality of this so-called municipal order, which in fact is devoid of any lawful provisions, apart from the numbering of its sections. The office certainly has some objections against this strange artifact, as it has informed us about issuing a call for legality addressing the municipal council.

The municipality of Miskolc has created a uniquely discriminative regulation

This new regulation is an attempt to push the tenants of low-comfort social housing out of town, which is clearly indirectly discriminative against Roma people. Therefore, we appealed to the ombudsman, asking him to request a constitutional revision of the modified regulation. In this submission to the Office of the Commissioner of Fundamental Rights (the ombudsman's office), we noted that the dazzling legal action of the city management is also dangerous because it generates further municipal regulations that would severely violate fundamental rights. This is because the news about the regulation in Miskolc provoked reactions of "self-defense" on the part of the mayors of several adjacent settlements: Miskolc should not export its misery!

On the one hand, this response is understandable: we agree that Miskolc has many more tools at its disposal to improve the situation of people living in extreme poverty than, for instance, Nyékládháza does. However, the point is that such a reaction of "self-defense" can hardly adopt an acceptable constitutional form. Moreover, it is assumedly directed against Roma poverty, rather than poverty as such, paving the way for further, albeit implicit, anti-Roma regulations.

Undoubtedly, the case of Sátoraljaújhely confirms this. It is hardly feasible that people affected by the regulation introduced in Miskolc would massively immigrate to this town at the Slovakian border, some 86 kilometers from Miskolc. But who cares? The point is to articulate, in a militant manner (especially with the impending local elections): "We do not want Roma here!"

No one bothers with the legality of the new regulations

Apparently, the mayor has learned the lesson from his colleague in Miskolc: the management of the town disregards the fact that, in the meantime, all people of Roma origins are stigmatized by statements presenting the residents of social housing as problematic and unwanted people, and that the regulations imposed affect people who have properly paid their rent and respected the regulations of their rental lease agreement. The regulation introduced in Miskolc last May actually concerns people who abandon their low-comfort social housing on the basis of a common agreement with the local government acting as the property owner.

Virtually no one bothers with legality in the local municipal council. The regulation has been adopted despite the explicit warning of the notary regarding its unlawful nature. The mayor thinks an order should not be approached by the members of the council in terms of legality, as it would take years for a court to decide upon this matter anyway -- so, for the time being, why not let an unlawful order regulate the affairs.

The viciousness of the order conceived in such circumstances is beyond any imagination: it would exclude, in case anyone should still come and live there, persons subjected to the regulation from any municipal support or aid as well as debt management services, the right to purchase property or permanently lease real estate owned by the municipality and, in effect, from public works, too.

The sad news is that this is not a cabaret joke but the Hungarian reality, which has produced this "legal regulation" with an unknown period of validity.

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