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TITLE:  HUNGARY HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993                            
DATE:  JANUARY 31, 1994


Hungary is a parliamentary democracy with a freely elected 
legislature.  Prime Minister Jozsef Antall headed a coalition 
government formed after the 1990 national elections until his 
death in December 1993.  He was succeeded as Prime Minister by 
Peter Boross.

The state internal and external security services report 
directly to a minister without portfolio.  The police are 
controlled by and are responsive to the Interior Minister.

Transition to a market economy has proven harder than expected 
despite some successes.  Hungary has attracted more than half 
the region's foreign investment; three-fourths of its trade 
turnover is with advanced industrial countries, and the private 
sector provides about half of the gross domestic product.  But 
privatization has been slow; living standards have fallen for 
most of the population, a fourth of which lives at or below the 
poverty line.  Hungary's per capita debt remains Europe's 
highest, and unemployment shows little prospect of falling 
below the 12- to 13-percent range.

Human rights and civil liberties are provided for in the 
Constitution and generally respected in practice.  The print 
media continued to flourish, with a high degree of independence 
and variety of opinion.  Parliament's continued failure to pass 
a broadcast bill during 1993 left the broadcast media still 
dominated by the state-owned Hungarian television and Hungarian 
radio, which were susceptible to increased pressure from the 

"Skinheads" perpetrated physical attacks on Gypsies, Africans, 
and Arabs.  Although the overall number of assaults dropped for 
the first time since 1991, this was probably due to the 
dramatic decrease in the number of foreign students in Hungary 
and some increased police attention to the problem.  There were 
also reports of police abuses against Gypsies, reflecting 
significant prejudice against the Gypsy population.  

The Government has only marginally improved upon its initial 
lackadaisical response to the significant increase in racial 
incidents in post-Communist Hungary.  In 1993 the Supreme Court 
decided that the section of the law that deals with racially 
motivated crimes is not applicable to skinhead attacks on 
foreigners, Gypsies, or other members of ethnic minorities.  
Instead, those few skinhead attacks that reach the courts are 
treated as simple hooliganism.

Parliament passed a law in July granting special rights to 
certain ethnic minorities living in Hungary.  The law outlines 
general goals, permitting collective rights and some local 
autonomy for specified ethnic groups, although the actual 
effects of the law remained unclear.  


Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There was no evidence that political or other extrajudicial 
killings occurred.

Judicial proceedings continue in the case of a park ranger who 
killed two Gypsies, with the defense attorney attempting to 
demonstrate that the ranger is mentally handicapped.  The two 
surviving Gypsies involved in the event were fined for stealing 

     b.  Disappearance

There were no reports of disappearances.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading     
         Treatment or Punishment

No known instances of torture occurred.  Nongovernmental human 
rights groups and the press, however, regularly carried reports 
of police abuse against Gypsies and abusive treatment of 
conscripts within the armed services.

Degrading treatment was reported in the case of an Ethiopian 
student accused of murdering his Ethiopian girlfriend.  The 
student, who was eventually acquitted, spent more than a year 
in custody, during which time he claimed he was subject to 
abusive treatment.  The student still walks with a limp from an 
infection which developed on his leg and which did not receive 
timely or adequate treatment while he was in custody.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Upon arrest, suspects must be informed of the charges against 
them and may be held for a maximum of 72 hours before charges 
must be filed.  It is a requirement, followed in practice, that 
persons be allowed access to counsel from the moment they are 
suspects undergoing questioning and throughout all subsequent 

The authorities must specifically provide counsel when a person 
is mentally handicapped, juvenile, or unable to afford 
counsel.  There is no bail system; however, depending upon the 
nature of the crime, the accused may be released upon his or 
her own recognizance.  Pretrial detention is based on a warrant 
issued by a judge and is limited to 1 year while criminal 
investigations are in progress, after which the accused must be 
brought to trial or released.  There were no known instances of 
incommunicado detention.

There is no exile.  

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

Under the Constitution the courts are responsible for the 
administration of justice, with the Supreme Court exercising 
policy control over the operations and judicature of all 
courts.  There are three levels of courts in the current 
system.  Original jurisdiction in most matters rests with the 
local courts.  Appeals of their rulings may be made to county 
courts or to the Budapest municipal court, all of which also 
have original jurisdiction in some matters.  The highest level 
of appeal is the Supreme Court, whose decisions on 
nonconstitutional issues are binding.  There is no jury system; 
hence, judges are the final arbiters.  In the case of military 
trials, appeals also may be addressed to the Supreme Court.

The Constitutional Court is charged with reviewing the 
constitutionality of laws and statutes brought before it for 
review.  The Court's 10 members are elected by Parliament to a 
9-year term which may be renewed.  (According to the law, the 
Constitutional Court is to be composed of 15 members; 10 have 
been elected to date, and the remaining 5 are scheduled to be 
seated by 1995.)  No judge or member of the Supreme Court or 
the Constitutional Court may belong to a political party or 
engage in political activity.

The right to a fair public trial is provided for by law and 
respected in practice.  However, Gypsies and other minorities 
are reportedly not treated by the authorities in the same way 
as the majority of Hungarians.  In some cases, judges may agree 
to a closed trial if it is for the protection of the accused or 
the crime victim, such as in some rape cases.  This is also 
true for military trials, which follow civil law and may be 
closed if state, service, or moral grounds justify a closed 
trial.  In all cases, sentencing must take place publicly.  
Defendants are entitled to counsel during all phases of 
criminal proceedings and are presumed innocent unless proven 
guilty.  Judicial proceedings are generally investigative 
rather than adversarial in nature.  The judicial system has 
been criticized for what human rights monitors and others have 
characterized as extraordinarily lenient sentences handed down 
to skinheads convicted of violent assaults on members of 
minority groups (see Section 5).  

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 

Under current law, search warrants may be issued independently 
by the prosecutor's office when there is probable cause.  House 
searches must be carried out in the presence of two witnesses.  
A written inventory of items removed from the premises must be 
prepared.  These provisions are observed in practice.

According to the law, only the Minister of Justice has the 
authority to approve wiretapping for national security reasons 
and for legitimate criminal investigations.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

Freedom of speech is provided for in the Constitution and is 
generally respected in practice.  Although the Government 
exerts some control over at least three Budapest dailies, the 
print media enjoy considerable freedom.  The electronic media, 
however, are subject to increasing political pressure.

Parliament's continued failure to enact a broadcast bill meant 
that there were no institutional safeguards to protect the 
independence of radio and television, and Hungarian Radio (MR) 
and Hungarian Television (MTV) continued to enjoy near monopoly 
status.  Despite the lack of media legislation, the Government 
plans to issue up to 103 local television and radio licenses 
beginning in 1994, ending the frequency moratorium in effect 
since 1989.  Critics charge that the licenses will be issued by 
government bureaucrats susceptible to political manipulation 
rather than by an impartial commission or body.

Besides MTV and MR, there is one private, commercial national 
radio; two private, commercial regional radios in Budapest; a 
national, commercial FM radio owned by MR; and a national AM 
commercial radio jointly owned by MR and a private concern.  
There are no private commercial television stations, though one 
private television production company places 2 hours of 
programming per day on MTV.  One private television station was 
allowed to broadcast on the Budapest wireless cable channel for 
3 days during the Christmas holidays, but the frequency has not 
yet been permanently allocated.  It is estimated that over half 
of Hungarian households now have access to satellite 
television, cable, or both.

In January the presidents of MTV and MR resigned their posts, 
citing an edict that went into effect on January 1, moving 
budgetary control of the state media from MTV and MR to the 
office of the Prime Minister.  They were joined by human rights 
groups in pointing out that, without a broadcast bill, press 
freedom at MTV and MR depended on the good faith of the 
Government.  Indeed, some MTV programs were canceled in 1993 
for political reasons.  Personnel changes were made in senior 
positions, giving progovernment journalists more influence, and 
the program mix at both MTV and MR was changed to present a 
more progovernment profile.  Following several unsuccessful 
attempts by the Prime Minister in 1992 to remove Elemer 
Hankiss, the then president of MTV, the Government initiated a 
lawsuit against Hankiss, charging him with mismanagement.  
Suspicions that the Government's action was politically 
motivated seemed to be confirmed when the lawsuit against 
Hankiss was dropped after he resigned.  Criminal investigations 
into allegations that two of his advisors were guilty of 
financial malfeasance were dropped for lack of evidence.  

In another prominent case, MTV fired Andras Bano, editor in 
chief of "Esti Egyenleg," an evening news program which 
maintained considerable independence from the Government, and 
which the Government often claimed favored the opposition.  
Bano was accused by MTV Acting President Gabor Nahlik of 
doctoring a videotape so that it appeared skinheads forced 
President of the Republic Arpad Goncz from the podium at a 
ceremony on October 23, 1992.  Nahlik's assertion was that the 
skinheads were not present when the President began to speak.  
Bano maintained that the tape was not doctored.  A diplomatic 
officer who was present at the rally confirmed that a large 
number of skinheads were among the crowd loudly heckling the 

Bano was initially suspended for his alleged doctoring of the 
tape.  Two of his associates were also suspended in relation to 
the case.  "Esti Egyenleg" then went off the air when its staff 
protested Bano's suspension.  Despite claims that he had 
"proof," Nahlik never produced conclusive evidence that the 
tapes had been doctored.  Nevertheless, in December a 
three-person MTV disciplinary panel--chaired by Nahlik himself 
--fired Bano.  However, the chief investigator in the case also 
resigned, saying that it had become clear to him that the 
intent of the investigation was not to determine the facts of 
the case but only to build a case against Bano.  "Esti 
Egyenleg" remains off the air as of the end of the year, 
leaving MTV with one news program, "Hirado," which is 
considered to be progovernment.

In March, by majority vote, Parliament created a cultural 
foundation that assesses a 1-percent tax on newspaper revenue 
and up to a 20-percent tax on publications the Ministry of 
Culture deems violent or pornographic.  The foundation may 
distribute the money for cultural purposes to appropriate 
applicants.  The print media objected to this, since the law 
gives the foundation (and hence, they say, the Government) the 
right to distribute the money to applicants who meet its 
political criteria.

The 1991 case against the weekly Szent Korona for incitement of 
anti-Semitic feelings was concluded with a fine for inciting 
ethnic hatred.

In May the President signed a law banning the wearing and 
dissemination of the swastika, SS badge, arrow-cross (the 
symbol of the Hungarian Fascists), the hammer and sickle, and 
the five-pointed red star.  Official symbols of states are 
exempted, as are the use of such symbols for educational, 
scientific, artistic, or historical purposes.

In a case involving charges of insulting the Government brought 
by Prime Minister Antall against Laszlo Lengyel, a 
well-respected political commentator, an appeals court found 
Lengyel guilty and sentenced him to 1 year's probation with a 
$750 fine suspended.  Lengyel, who called the Hungarian 
Government corrupt in the course of an economics lecture in the 
town of Veszprem, plans to appeal the case to the European 
Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, saying he should face no 
penalty whatsoever for his remarks.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

Peaceful public gatherings are essentially unrestricted.  In 
general, no permits are required for assembly, except in cases 
when a public gathering is planned near sensitive installations 
such as military facilities, embassies, and key government 

Police may sometimes alter or revoke permits, but there is no 
evidence that this freedom is abused.  Several mass 
demonstrations reflecting diverse political views took place in 

Any 10 or more persons may form an association, provided that 
it does not commit criminal offenses or disturb the rights of 
others.  Associations with charters and elected officers must 
register with the courts.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

Approximately 65 percent of Hungarians are Roman Catholic; 
members of other faiths practice their religion freely.  
Religious groups may and do maintain international contacts.  
There is no officially preferred religion, but only officially 
approved churches receive state subsidies.  The Government 
distributed nearly $33 million in state subsidies among 36 

Four small churches--the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Community of 
Krishna Believers, the Unifying Church, and the Church of 
Scientology--branded as "socially destructive" during 
parliamentary debate, were not included in the list of 
subsidized churches but are allowed to function.

Legislation is being drafted, however, that would seriously 
restrict religious freedom.  The draft proposal would give the 
courts the right to deny registration as a church for a group 
whose teachings the court determines would offend "generally 
accepted moral values."  In order to be registered, churches 
would also be required to have 10,000 members (as opposed to 
the current 100), although churches that have existed in 
Hungary more than 100 years would be exempt.

Religious orders and schools have regained property confiscated 
by the Communist regime.  In some small towns where government 
schools were transferred to the Catholic Church, parents who do 
not want their children to receive a religious education had 
little alternative.  Even among many Catholic parents, there is 
a strong preference for secular education, and parents in some 
cases were successful in blocking the transfer of schools to 
the Church.  In towns where there is only a church school, the 
state provides subsidized bus transportation to the nearest 
secular school.  

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

There are no restrictions on the movement of Hungarian 
nationals within or outside Hungary, including on the rights of 
emigration and repatriation.  Emigration may be delayed, but 
not denied, for those who have significant court-assessed debts 
or who possess state secrets.  Foreign students from countries 
not having a visa waiver agreement with Hungary must obtain 
exit visas every time they leave the country.  Foreign minor 
children may not be allowed to travel to third countries 
without a parent or legal guardian or the permission of the 
country of the child's nationality.

The fighting in the former Yugoslavia resulted in a continued 
flow of refugees into Hungary.  While 8,500 refugees are 
registered within Hungary, the Government estimates that over 
30,000 more are unregistered.  Most of the refugees are in 
private housing, with only 3,200 housed in refugee camps.

Hungary is a signatory to the 1951 Convention Relating to the 
Status of Refugees and to the 1967 Protocol, with a caveat that 
it will grant refugee status only to European nationals.  
Prospective refugees who seek only to transit to Western Europe 
are encouraged to return to their countries of departure.

Local and international human rights organizations have accused 
the Government of detaining aliens in unacceptable conditions 
for excessively lengthy periods at the detention center at 
Kerepestarcsa, which is operated by the police.  Aliens who 
have entered illegally, mostly non-European, are kept at the 
center pending their deportation or their qualification for 
resettlement in a third country by the local office of the 
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).  While 
the police seek the timely deportation of detainees who do not 
qualify for refugee status, a lack of funds and the detainees' 
lack of proper documentation, such as passports, often result 
in lengthy stays.  UNHCR reports that conditions at the camp 
have improved moderately in the last year.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

Hungarians aged 18 and over have the right to change their 
government through national and local elections required to be 
held at least every 4 years.  The Parliament's 386 members are 
elected through a complex voting procedure for individuals and 
party lists.

Currently, Hungary has a center-right coalition government, 
formed by the Hungarian Democratic Forum, the Christian 
Democratic People's Party, and a group of independent 
smallholders' parties.  The Free Democrats, the Alliance of 
Young Democrats, the Hungarian Socialist Party, and various 
independent members of Parliament, sometimes joined by Istvan 
Csurka's breakaway Justice and Life Party, constitute an active 
opposition in Parliament.  Several parties have been formed 
recently; however, only those that attract at least 5 percent 
in the 1994 elections may be represented in Parliament.

There are no legal impediments to women's participation in 
government or the political process, but there is reluctance to 
break from the women's traditional role in the home and 
responsibility for the family; 27 of 386 parliamentary deputies 
are women, and there are few women in leadership positions in 
the Government or the political parties.  Several minorities, 
including Germans, Gypsies, Croats, and Slovaks, are 
represented in Parliament as members of one party or another.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

Several human rights organizations operate in Hungary without 
government restriction or interference, including the Hungarian 
Helsinki Committee, the Wallenberg Association for Minority 
Rights, the Hungarian Human Rights League, and the Martin 
Luther King Organization, which was formed by the foreign and 
Hungarian student community in response to the growing 
incidence of racially motivated attacks.  A new legal 
nongovernmental organization, the Bureau for Minorities, is 
being organized, and a 25-member parliamentary Committee for 
Human, Minority, and Religious Rights also considers human 
rights issues.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status


Legally, women have the same rights as men, including identical 
inheritance and property rights.  While there is no overt 
discrimination against women, the number of women in middle or 
upper managerial positions is low.  Women are heavily 
represented in the judiciary and in medicine and teaching, 
which are among the lower paid professions.

Women's rights groups, still in their infancy, have not had a 
major impact on societal attitudes.  Groups, such as the 
Feminist Network, have become more active in lobbying with 
Parliament.  While there are laws against rape, it is often 
unreported for cultural reasons.  Similarly, police attitudes 
towards victims of sexual abuse reportedly are often 
unsympathetic.  Abuse of partners is most prevalent in families 
living below the poverty line and among unmarried couples.  
Police reports are rarely made.  Alcohol is often a factor in 
abusive relationships.


The Government is committed to children's rights.  Education is 
mandatory through age 16, and employment is illegal below age 

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The new law on ethnic and minority rights, approved by 
Parliament in July, legally establishes the concept of the 
collective rights of minorities and states that minorities need 
special rights in order to preserve their ethnic identities.  
It explicitly permits organized forms of limited self-
government in areas where ethnic groups constitute a majority 
and states that the establishment of self-governing bodies must 
be made possible in localities where an ethnic group 
constitutes less than a majority of the population.  Further, 
the new law permits associations, movements, and political 
parties based upon an ethnic or national character and mandates 
unrestricted use of ethnic languages.  Only those ethnic groups 
that have lived within the present Hungarian borders for at 
least 100 years and whose members are Hungarian citizens obtain 
recognized status under the new law.  On this basis, the law 
specifically grants minority status to 13 ethnic or national 
groups.  Other groups may petition the Chairman of Parliament 
for inclusion if they comprise at least 1,000 Hungarian 
citizens and have their own language and culture.  

Significantly, the law granted the status of a minority to the 
Gypsies, or Romas, Hungary's largest minority.  Previously, 
they were not regarded as a national minority and thus were 
deprived of some of the special rights granted to minorities 
under the Constitution.  Conversely, Jews are not 1 of the 13 
minorities listed in the law because they are considered a 
religious group.  This was the subject of much debate during 
the drafting of the law, and, although there is no consensus in 
the Jewish community about whether Jews should be considered a 
minority, it is believed that the majority oppose the idea.

The effectiveness of the law will depend on the mechanisms 
established to implement it and guarantee its provisions.  Many 
of its major provisions will not actually go into effect until 
1994 or even later.  Minority representatives in Hungary 
complained that the law failed to provide adequate legal and 
financial guarantees for expanding minority institutions.  The 
chairman of Hungary's Roma parliament, an organization 
representing Gypsy interests that is not affiliated with the 
Hungarian Parliament although its chairman is also a member of 
the Hungarian Parliament, complained that the new law made no 
provisions for setting up specific institutions to guarantee 
minority rights and for providing minorities with electoral 
ballots in their mother tongue.

Although the Constitution allows each minority group one 
parliamentary ombudsman to speak for its collective rights, the 
Government has not yet implemented this provision.

On the local level, minorities have the right to establish 
self-governing bodies, and minority candidates need only 
two-thirds of the minimum number of votes required of 
nonminority candidates for election to corresponding regional 
legislative bodies.  A minority roundtable, at which all 
minorities are represented, negotiates with the Government over 
the content of prospective legislation on minorities and was 
actively involved in the drafting of the law on minority 
rights.  The Government established an Office for National and 
Ethnic Minorities in 1990 to address the needs of national and 
ethnic minorities.

Gypsies constitute the largest minority group, officially 
estimated at between 400,000 and 600,000 in a total population 
of 10.5 million.  The second largest group is the 210,000 
Germans, followed by 105,000 Slovaks, 85,000 Croats, and 80,000 
Jews.  There are also Romanian, Polish, Greek, Serbian, 
Slovene, Armenian, Ruthenian, and Bulgarian minorities.

To varying degrees, education is available in almost all 
minority languages.  There are minority-language print media, 
and Hungarian Radio broadcasts 2-hour daily programs in the 
mother tongue of major nationalities.  Hungarian Television 
carries a 30-minute program for the larger minority groups and 
plans to introduce programming for the smaller ethnic groups in 
1994.  Hebrew has been proposed as the 14th official minority 
language.  Minority groups continued to be dissatisfied with 
the broadcasting hours allotted them, complaining especially 
about early afternoon time slots for such programs.

Conditions of life within the Gypsy community are significantly 
poorer than among the general population, and they suffer from 
discrimination and racist attacks.  Gypsies are considerably 
less educated, with lower than average incomes and life 
expectancy.  The unemployment rate is estimated to be 70 
percent, more than five times the national average of 13 
percent.  With unemployment benefits exhausted and inadequate 
social services, there are reports that Gypsy families, 
including young children, are forced to resort to stealing food 
to eat.  

The Government sponsors programs both to preserve Gypsy 
languages and cultural heritage and to assist social and 
economic assimilation.  After a Gypsy youth was beaten into a 
coma in the town of Eger, a skinhead stronghold and site of 25 
assaults on Gypsies since 1991, Gypsies held a protest rally.  
Strong police protection was provided.  For the first time in 
Hungary, a member of a Gypsy organization, though not a Gypsy 
himself, was elected mayor in the town of Kunmadaras.  
Nonetheless, there is still widespread popular prejudice 
against the Gypsies.  Gypsies are generally assumed to be 
untrustworthy and treated as such, including by police, which 
might partly account for the higher crime rate.  (See Section 
1.c. for reported police abuse of Gypsies.)  

The Jewish community in Hungary, although generally well 
assimilated, was the target of occasional anti-Semitic 
expression, including the desecration in June of a Jewish 
cemetery in Eger, for which several youths were arrested and 
charged.  Jews are well represented in politics, the media, 
culture, and business.  Many Hungarians, however, are concerned 
that, while the Government does not actively condone 
anti-Semitic activities, its failure to disassociate itself 
quickly and clearly from the anti-Semitic statements of Istvan 
Csurka reflected a lack of sensitivity.  A rightwing populist, 
Csurka was able to retain his position as vice president of the 
ruling party for several months after his statements were 
published.  Before the MDF could expel him, Csurka went on to 
form his own new rightwing party and group in Parliament.

Skinheads and neo-Nazi sympathizers continued physically to 
assault Jews and people of color.  Sentences in skinhead 
attacks are relatively light, especially when the defendants 
are minors.  In June three youths convicted of attacking and 
severely beating two Pakistani men in November 1990 were 
sentenced to 8 months in jail; the court then suspended the 
sentences and gave the youths 2 years' probation.  Although 
investigations of reported crimes were usually conducted, 
convicted criminals were rarely sent to prison.  The resulting 
perception of the judicial system's de facto tolerance of 
racist crimes creates an atmosphere conducive to further acts 
of skinhead violence.  The Martin Luther King Organization 
(MLKO), which documents assaults on foreigners of color (but 
not anti-Semitic incidents), recorded about 20 separate attacks 
in 1993, down from 78 in 1992.  MLKO sources commented, 
however, that they believe many cases go unreported, that 
police do not seem inclined to intervene, and that the decline 
in the number of attacks is primarily due to the lower number 
of foreign students in Hungary.  The greatest decline has been 
in the number of African students; while there were 600 
Sudanese students in Hungary 2 years ago, MLKO sources say 
there are now barely 60.

Since 1955 the Penal Code has provided for stiffer sentences 
for crimes which are racially motivated.  However, Hungary's 
Supreme Court has ruled that racially motivated crimes cannot 
be prosecuted under the section of the law dealing with crimes 
against humanity.  In a case involving attacks on Gypsies and 
people of color by 48 members of a skinhead gang, the court 
ruled that the defendants could only be charged with 
hooliganism, and it reduced the sentences which lower courts 
had imposed.  The Hungarian Supreme Court's failure to 
recognize a qualitative difference between premeditated attacks 
with a clear racial motivation and simple hooliganism is a 
significant judgment.  In effect, the Court has declared that 
as far as Hungarian law is concerned, hate crimes do not exist.

People of color continued to suffer consistent discrimination, 
including being refused service in some stores and 

     People with Disabilities

Services to the disabled are still limited, and many buildings 
are not accessible to wheelchair .  MTV does have close 
captioning on some programs, and there are programs that 
address issues of interest to the disabled.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The 1992 Labor Code recognizes the right of unions to organize 
and bargain collectively and permits trade union pluralism.  
Workers have the right to associate freely, choose 
representatives, publish journals, and openly promote members' 
interests and views.  With the exception of military personnel 
and the police, they also have the right to go on strike.  In 
contrast to 1991, when the number of strikes could be counted 
on one hand, short "warning strikes," often no more than 2 
hours in duration, increased dramatically.  A strike by the 
maintenance personnel of MALEV, the state airline, lasted 
several days before a settlement was reached.

A separate law applicable to public sector workers was also 
passed in 1992.  Under this law, public servants may negotiate 
working conditions, but the final decision on increasing 
salaries rests with Parliament.  

The two free trade unions, the Democratic League of Independent 
Unions (LIGA) and the Federation of Workers' Councils, have 
attracted a combined membership of 400,000, while the successor 
to the former monolithic Communist union, MSzOSz, has up to 
800,000 members.  

There are no restrictions on trade union contacts with 
international organizations, and unions have developed a wide 
range of ties with European and international trade union 
bodies.  In December LIGA and MSzOSz were admitted to the 
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, while the 
Federation of Workers' Councils is associated with the World 
Confederation of Labor.

The conflict which characterized the trade union movement in 
1992 subsided after the resolution of the issue of trade union 
assets formerly owned by Hungary's Communist-era trade union 
organization.  Since the settlement agreement, labor 
organizations have shown a greater willingness to cooperate 
with one another.  This is particularly evident in their 
relationships in forums such as the National Interest 
Reconciliation Council (NIRC), which discusses issues such as 
the setting of the minimum wage as well as wage increases.  
During 1993, six different union federations were able to reach 
a unified position on the minimum wage issue.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The 1992 Labor Code permits collective bargaining at the 
enterprise and industry level, and it is practiced in resolving 
most major labor issues through the NIRC.  Minimum wage levels 
are set by the NIRC, a forum for tripartite consultation among 
representatives from the employers, employees, and the 
Government, and higher levels (but not lower ones) may be 
negotiated at the plant level between individual trade unions 
and management.  By agreement, the legal minimum wage is 
centrally negotiated at the NIRC in order to control 
inflation.  The Ministry of Labor is responsible for drafting 
labor-related legislation, while special labor courts enforce 
labor laws.  The decisions of these courts may be appealed to 
the civil court system.  Under the new legislation, employers 
are prohibited from discriminating against unions and their 

There are no export processing zones.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Forced or compulsory labor is prohibited by law, which is 
enforced by the Ministry of Labor.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The National Labor Center enforces the minimum age of 16 years, 
with exceptions for apprentice programs, which may begin at 
15.  There does not appear to be any significant abuse of this 
statute.  Education is compulsory through age 16.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The legal minimum wage is established by the NIRC and 
subsequently implemented by Ministry of Labor decree.  The 
National Labor Center enforces it.  The monthly minimum wage at 
year's end was the equivalent of $90 and is insufficient to 
provide an adequate living for workers and their families.  The 
International Labor Organization (ILO) calculated in February 
that the minimum wage was 70 percent of the minimum necessary 
for subsistence.  Many Hungarians, therefore, supplement their 
primary employment with second jobs.  Despite the adoption of 
new legislation, the ILO's Committee of Experts notes that 
there are many cases of employers, for economic reasons, paying 
wages that are lower than the prescribed rates in the water 
supply, forestry, and agricultural sectors.  

The 1992 Labor Code specifies various conditions of employment, 
including termination procedures, severance pay, maternity 
leave, trade union consultation rights in some management 
decisions, annual and sick leave entitlements, and labor 
conflict resolution procedures.  Under the new Code, the 
official workday is set at 8 hours; it may vary, however, 
depending upon the nature of the industry.  A 24-hour rest 
period is required during the week.  Labor courts and the 
Ministry of Labor enforce occupational safety standards set by 
the Government, but specific safety conditions are not always 
up to internationally accepted standards.  Workers have the 
right to remove themselves from dangerous work situations 
without jeopardy to continued employment.  

[end of document]


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