Report on Gyöngyöspata Marks the Final Goodbye of the Minority Ombudsman

“Gyöngyöspata is a frightening example of „law and order”. Do we really want to set this as an example?” – the first sentence of the report already suggests the essence of Ernő Kállai’s observations. In December, the minority ombudsman published his report on public employment, the procedural practice of minor offense authorities, and the state of education in Gyöngyöspata. In his report, Ernő Kállai demonstrates the effects of measures taken on the public morale and the cohabitation of Roma and non-Roma since his investigation in the spring.

He also states that another objective of the follow-up investigation is to provide the public and the media with reliable information, since the news coming from Gyöngyöspata have often been contradictory. His observation is supported by the fact that the December publication of the report received scant coverage by the media, even though it contains several serious allegations that are supported by evidence.

Due to the significance of the events and the interest of the domestic and international public opinion, the HCLU hereby publishes a summarized version of the report. We have already touched upon the topic in our blog. Special significance is given to the observations made by the report due to the fact that the position of the minority ombudsman was terminated at the end of 2011, by the decision of the Parliament. Ernő Kállai prepared this report as one of his last measures, a few weeks before his position ceased.

You can read the summarized version of the report here >>

The ombudsman’s earlier report on the events published in the spring of 2011, implied that the events in Gyöngyöspata took on a larger meaning and significance. The events unfolding in Spring, set in a village with average criminal statistics, an extreme political force takes command citing Gypsy-criminality as the reason, first in the form of groups patrolling the streets, later on formally as well – has gained new elements. The instigators of the conflict – now officially in power – operate an authoritarian and fear-inducing system, while seemingly maintaining the framework of the rule of law.

Ernő Kállai examined in detail the public employment system in Gyöngyöspata, as well as the practice of official inspections aiming at maintaining the order of living environments – which, although violates the right to human dignity, is applied in Érpatak, another village, as well. He also examined the minor offense procedures of the police and the local government, which – as he observes – have violated the right to due process. He also examined the ethnic-based segregation at the local elementary school.

The investigation came up against several obstacles along the way. The ombudsman and his associates were unable to access and did not receive all necessary information, which hindered their work to a large extent. It was a surprising turn of events when during the ombudsman’s visit to Gyöngyöspata, Oszkár Juhász, the Mayor and the President of the local Jobbik, took off through the back door of his office without a word in order to avoid the ombudsman.

In conclusion, the ombudsman observed that „it seems that the situation is now under control in Gyöngyöspata, but fears, mutual distrust, suspicions, and segregation are still very much present and indeed have become a legitimate part of everyday life”.

While Gyöngyöspata has become the site of a double experiment, it is questionable how long local residents can endure this situation. The Roma migration that has already started – both from the village and the country – has been met with indifference and even approval instead of social solidarity. In a democracy, however, it is unacceptable that certain groups of society should feel as if they were second-rate citizens in their own home and country.

Watch the HCLU's documentary on the Gyöngyöspata events of Spring 2011!

For English subtitles: start the video and click on the "cc" button!


Kapcsolódó hírek

Absurd Fines Imposed against Hungary's Roma

Hungary’s National Police force has been accused of discrimination in targeting Roma citizens for trivial fines. NGOs have sent a letter to the police commissioner, who denies the allegations, asking for a working group to study the problem.

Police Fail to Act Against Racist Violence as Football Fans Target Romani Schoolchildren

The HCLU is one of the six human rights NGOs calling on Hungarian authorities to fully investigate an incident at a school in Konyár on 5 September, and the police response. A busload of football fans stopped outside the school, which has a large majority of Roma pupils, and which had to dismiss a teacher for racist comments earlier this year. What happened next is unclear, as police reports differ greatly from eyewitness reports.

Tomor is the center of the world

“We bring human rights to those living in total isolation, communities needing all the opportunities for just law enforcement that they can get,” says the HCLU’s web page. There are currently 15 working TASZPOINTs in Hungary, and our series of interviews will show how they work. Here, we discuss the TASZPOINT in Tomor, with Laci Siroki, the director.