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TITLE:  HUNGARY HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1994
AUTHOR:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DATE:  FEBRUARY 1995









                            HUNGARY


Hungary is a parliamentary democracy with a freely elected 
legislative assembly.  Prime Minister Gyula Horn, the leader of 
the Hungarian Socialist (formerly Communist) Party, heads a 
coalition Government which was formed after the 1994 national 
elections.

The state internal and external security services report to a 
minister without portfolio, and the police report to the 
Interior Minister.  There continued to be credible reports of 
police abuse.

The new Socialist-led Government remains committed to the 
transition to a market economy.  About three-quarters of 
Hungary's trade is with advanced industrial countries, and the 
private sector provides over half of the gross domestic 
product.  However, the privatization process moved more slowly 
than anticipated, and living standards continued to fall for 
most of the population.  Unemployment is approximately 11 
percent for the economy as a whole and about 70 percent in the 
Roma community.  Services, trade, and government employ about 
45 percent of the labor force, and industry nearly 30 percent.  
Major exports include raw materials, semifinished goods, and 
chemicals (40 percent); consumer goods (22 percent); and food 
and agriculture (20 percent).

Although the Government generally respects constitutionally 
provided human rights and civil liberties, the law does not 
ensure due process in all cases.  Prosecutors may request what 
amounts to unlimited pretrial detention.  Police may enter 
private residences to check foreigners' identification without 
warrants.  Police searching for illegal aliens resorted to 
widespread raids, detaining those who did not show appropriate 
documents and harassing others.

Despite the print media's relatively high degree of 
independence, the Government influences state-owned television 
and radio, which dominate the airwaves.  Although the 
Government does not systematically repress the Roma population, 
police continued to harass and abuse Roma.  Societal 
discrimination against Roma continued to be widespread.  
However, there were fewer anti-Semitic and racist incidents and 
skinhead attacks, largely due to the decrease in the number of 
foreign students in the country.  A new law designed to 
strengthen the rights of ethnic minorities went into effect 
during 1994.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

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

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were no reports of such killings.  The 1992 case of the 
park ranger accused of killing two Roma was appealed to the 
Supreme Court.  In 1994 the Court found the ranger guilty and 
sentenced him to 10 years in prison.

     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.  Police, however, 
continued to harass and physically abuse Roma.  In one case of 
particularly degrading treatment, a dozen Budapest police 
without a warrant entered an apartment where Roma families were 
celebrating a child's birthday and began beating the women and 
yelling racist obscenities.

Police also harassed and mistreated foreigners.  After being 
given three breathalyzer tests at a police checkpoint in 
Budapest, an American citizen was taken to a police station.  
When the police produced a needle, the American citizen 
objected and requested a translator.  According to the citizen, 
the police refused to provide a translator and forced his 
compliance with the taking of blood samples by choking and 
beating him into unconsciousness.  A medical report confirmed 
that the citizen had been beaten.

In a Budapest restaurant frequented by foreigners, more than a 
dozen armed police rounded up guests and demanded identity 
papers.  When the Chinese owner of the restaurant protested, 
the police threatened to beat him.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Police must inform suspects upon arrest of the charges against 
them and may hold them for a maximum of 72 hours before filing 
charges.  The law requires that all suspects be allowed access 
to counsel prior to questioning and throughout all subsequent 
proceedings.  The authorities must provide counsel for 
juveniles, the indigent, and the mentally handicapped.  The 
authorities respect these rights to counsel.  There is no bail 
system; however, depending upon the nature of the crime, the 
court may release the accused upon his or her own recognizance.

Pretrial detention, based on a warrant issued by a judge, is 
initially limited to 1 year while criminal investigations are 
in progress; it may be extended indefinitely on the 
prosecutor's motion.  In 1993, 49 people had been held for more 
than 1 year.  No figures are yet available for 1994.

In the eastern town of Debrecen, several policemen without a 
warrant entered the apartment of foreign medical students and 
took 10 who had only their student identity cards to the police 
station.  The police did not allow the students to make 
telephone calls and did not release them until their friends 
were able to produce their passports several hours later.

The Penal Code does not provide for 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 determinations in 
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.  
Parliament elects the Court's members to 9-year terms which may 
be renewed.  No judge or member of the Supreme Court or the 
Constitutional Court may belong to a political party or engage 
in political activity.

The law provides for the right to a fair public trial, and the 
authorities respect this right in practice.  In selected cases, 
however, judges may agree to a closed trial to protect the 
accused or the crime victim, such as in some rape cases.  
Military trials follow civil law and may be closed if state, 
service, or moral grounds so justify.  In all cases, sentencing 
must take place publicly.  Defendants are entitled to counsel 
during all phases of criminal proceedings and are presumed 
innocent until proven guilty.  Judicial proceedings are 
generally investigative rather than adversarial in nature.

Many human rights and Roma organizations allege that Roma 
receive less than equal treatment in court.  Specifically, they 
argue that Roma are kept in pretrial detention more often and 
for longer periods of time than non-Roma.  Because official 
records do not contain the ethnic identity of offenders, there 
is no statistical support for this allegation.

In the absence of a law against hate crimes, skinhead assaults 
against minorities continue to be treated as hooliganism (a 
misdemeanor), and sentences are light.  President of the 
Republic Arpad Goncz has proposed a law which would stiffen the 
penalties for hate crimes, but Parliament has not yet acted on 
this proposal.

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

The law provides that the prosecutor's office may issue search 
warrants independently.  Police must carry out house searches 
in the presence of two witnesses and must prepare a written 
inventory of items removed from the premises.  Wiretapping, 
which may be done for national security reasons and for 
legitimate criminal investigations, requires a court's 
permission.  These provisions are observed in practice.

A search warrant is not necessary, however, in cases in which 
the police are making checks on the validity of the identity 
papers of foreigners.  In a series of raids in September, 
police conducted arbitrary identity checks in restaurants and 
residences frequented by foreigners.  In Budapest, a dozen 
policemen went to the residence of an American business 
executive at 2:45 a.m. to demand identification.  The 
businessman was not home.  The policemen left after the 
businessman's wife produced the appropriate documents for 
herself and her small children.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for freedom of speech, and the 
Government generally respects this right in practice.  Some 
Budapest dailies are still partially state owned, but a broad 
spectrum of print media enjoy considerable freedom.  Newspaper 
and periodical subscriptions are obtained through the 
government-controlled postal system, however, which has led to 
charges by certain journals that their circulation is impeded 
for political reasons.

Parliament's continued failure to enact a broadcast bill meant 
that the Government retained the ability to exert political 
pressure on the electronic media.  There is one private 
national radio station and one national radio station in which 
the Government maintains a minority share.  There are no 
private national television stations.  State-owned Hungarian 
Radio and Hungarian Television continued to enjoy a near 
monopoly of nationwide broadcasting, and the Prime Minister 
controlled their budgets.  During the spring election campaign, 
the progovernment bias of the electronic media's news coverage 
was often apparent.

Following the national elections, the outgoing Prime Minister 
dismissed the acting heads of state-run radio and television, 
and the incoming Prime Minister appointed replacements.  The 
new management rehired and compensated many of those dismissed 
by the former management for political reasons and then 
dismissed, apparently also for political reasons, some 15 to 20 
people.  The opposition contends that the number of persons 
dismissed for political reasons is now much higher, but the 
exact number is subject to dispute.

While some limited-range local licenses have been issued, 
partisan wrangling and pressures from television and radio 
unions and employee associations continued to block the 
availability of national broadcast frequencies and the 
privatization of existing state channels.  (However, over half 
of the country's households have access to satellite 
television, cable, or both.)  In September the Prime Minister 
said his party was committed to continued state ownership of 
the two existing national television channels.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

There are essentially no restrictions on peaceful public 
gatherings.  In general, the Government does not require 
permits for assembly except in instances when a public 
gathering is to take place near sensitive installations, such 
as military facilities, embassies, and key government 
buildings.  Police may sometimes alter or revoke permits, but 
there is no evidence that they abuse this right.

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

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and members 
of all faiths are allowed to practice their religion freely.  
There is no officially preferred religion, but only officially 
approved churches receive state subsidies.  The Government 
distributed over $28 million in state subsidies among 
approximately three dozen churches.  Religious orders and 
schools have regained some property confiscated by the 
Communist regime.

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

There are no restrictions on the movement of citizens within or 
outside Hungary, including on the rights of emigration and 
repatriation.  The Government may delay but not deny emigration 
for those who have significant court-assessed debts or who 
possess state secrets.  It requires that foreign students from 
countries not having a visa waiver agreement with Hungary 
obtain exit visas every time they leave the country.

The fighting in the former Yugoslavia resulted in a continued 
flow of refugees into Hungary.  While 7,110 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 around 2,000 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.

Illegal aliens, mostly non-European, are housed at the 
detention center at Kerepestarcsa 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 police seek the timely deportation of 
detainees who do not qualify for refugee status, a shortage of 
funds and the detainees' lack of proper documentation, such as 
passports, often result in lengthy stays.  The UNHCR reports 
that conditions at the camp are acceptable.  Newspapers have 
reported that Serbian refugees at the camp have threatened 
other residents.

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

Citizens age 18 and over have the right to change their 
government through national elections held at least every
4 years.  The Parliament's members are elected through a 
complex voting procedure for individuals and party lists.  In 
the 1994 national elections, the Hungarian Socialist Party won 
an absolute majority and formed a coalition Government with the 
liberal Alliance of Free Democrats under Prime Minister Gyula 
Horn.  Four parties, ranging from moderate to conservative, 
constitute an active opposition in Parliament.

There are no legal impediments to women's participation in 
government or the political process; however, only 43 of 386 
parliamentary deputies are women.  There are few women in 
leadership positions in the Government or the political 
parties.  Several minorities are represented in Parliament.

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

Numerous human rights organizations operate without government 
restriction or interference.  Many nongovernmental 
organizations (NGO's) report that the Government is generally 
responsive to their requests for information.  However, 
individual police stations are reportedly uncooperative at 
times, particularly in cases involving Roma.  There is also a 
25-member parliamentary Committee for Human, Minority, and 
Religious Rights.

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

     Women

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 in business and government is low.  
Women are heavily represented in the judiciary and in the 
medical and teaching professions.  The law does not prohibit 
sexual harassment in the workplace.

While there are laws against rape, it is often unreported for 
cultural reasons.  Police attitudes towards victims of sexual 
abuse reportedly are often unsympathetic.  According to women's 
organizations, the vast majority of rape and abuse cases go 
unreported.  Rape within marriage is illegal according to 
Hungarian law, but proving it is extremely difficult in 
practice.  According to the National Alliance of Hungarian 
Women, there were 468 reported rapes (211 by spouses) and 271 
reported cases of assaults on women.

Women's groups report that making women aware of their rights 
is a major problem.  In the fall, Hungarian television without 
explanation canceled "Ombudsno," the only television program 
concerned with legal and social issues affecting women.

     Children

The Government is committed to children's rights.  Education is 
mandatory through age 16, and employment is illegal below age 
16.  According to the National Alliance of Hungarian Women, an 
NGO, there were 528 reported cases of violence against children 
in 1994, 190 of which took place within the family.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The 1993 law on ethnic and minority rights establishes the 
concept of 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 which have lived within the country's present 
borders for at least 100 years and who are citizens may 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 citizens and have their own language and culture.

In December Hungary held its first elections for minority local 
self-governments, which resulted in the formation of over 600 
minority local bodies.  With funding from the central budget 
and logistical support from local governments, these bodies 
will have as their primary responsibility influencing and 
overseeing local matters affecting the minorities.  In 1995, 
they will also delegate electors to their own national 
assembly, forming the national minority self-government.

In November Parliament passed a law providing for three 
ombudsmen, one of whom would be specifically charged with 
defending minority rights.  The ombudsmen are expected to begin 
their work in the spring of 1995.

Roma constitute about 4 percent of the population, with 
Germans, the second largest minority group, at about 
2 percent.  There are smaller communities of Slovaks, Croats, 
Romanians, Poles, Greeks, Serbs, Slovenes, Armenians, 
Ruthenians, and Bulgarians, all of which are also recognized as 
minorities.

Education is available to varying degrees in almost all 
minority languages.  There are minority-language print media, 
and the state-run radio broadcasts 2-hour daily programs in the 
mother tongue of major nationalities, i.e., Slovak, Romanian, 
German, Croatian, and Serbian.  State-run television carries a 
30-minute program for the larger minority groups, complemented 
by 5-minute weekly news bulletins.

Conditions of life within the Roma community are significantly 
poorer than among the general population.  Roma suffer from 
discrimination and racist attacks and are considerably less 
educated, with lower than average incomes and life expectancy.  
The Roma unemployment rate is estimated to be 70 percent, more 
than six times the national average of 11 percent.  With 
unemployment benefits exhausted and inadequate social services, 
there are reports that Roma families, including young children, 
are forced to resort to stealing food to eat.  Roma also 
constitute a majority of the prison population.

The Government sponsors programs both to preserve Roma 
languages and cultural heritage and to assist social and 
economic assimilation.  Nonetheless, widespread popular 
prejudice continues.  In a November incident in the town of 
Gyongyos, a group of skinheads threw Molotov cocktails in the 
windows of a Roma family's house and burned it down.  One of 
the victims, who was taken into custody for attacking two 
youths whom the police said were innocent, told reporters that 
the police had forced him to change his statement.  Police 
sometimes abuse Roma.

     Religious Minorities

The Jewish community is generally well assimilated, and there 
were few anti-Semitic incidents.  Jews are well represented in 
politics, the media, culture, and business.  During the 
election campaign, swastikas and other anti-Semitic graffiti 
were spray-painted on posters, and in a notable incident, a bus 
which took Jewish youngsters to a Jewish summer camp at the 
town of Szarvas was spray-painted with swastikas.  In a more 
serious incident in March, two skinheads stabbed a Jewish 
passenger in the leg on a Budapest subway.  The case has not 
yet come to trial.  The number of assaults on Jews by skinheads 
and neo-Nazi sympathizers continued to decline.

The Martin Luther King Organization (MLKO), which documents 
assaults on foreigners of color recorded 16 such incidents in 
1994, down from 20 in 1993 and 78 in 1992.  MLKO sources 
commented, however, that they believe many cases go unreported 
and that the decline in attacks is primarily due to the lower 
number of foreign students in Hungary.  There have been some 
reports of societal discrimination against persons of color.

     People with Disabilities

The Government does not mandate accessibility to buildings or 
government services for people with disabilities.  Services to 
the disabled are limited, and many buildings are not wheelchair 
accessible.

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 strike.  Under a 
separate 1992 law, public servants may negotiate working 
conditions, but the final decision on increasing salaries rests 
with Parliament.

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.

The largest labor union organization in Hungary is the National 
Confederation of Hungarian Trade Unions, the successor to the 
former monolithic Communist union, with over 800,000 members.  
The Democratic League of Independent Unions and the Federation 
of Workers' Councils, have around 250,000 and 150,000 members 
respectively.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The Labor Code permits collective bargaining at the enterprise 
and industry level, although the practice is not widespread.  
There is a willingness among labor organizations to cooperate 
with one another, and it is particularly evident in their 
relationship in forums such as the National Interest 
Reconciliation Council (ET), which provides a forum for 
tripartite consultation among representatives from management, 
employees, and the Government.  The ET discusses issues such as 
wage hikes and the setting of the minimum wage, which is 
centrally negotiated within the ET in order to control 
inflation.  Individual trade unions and management may 
negotiate higher levels (but not lower ones) at the plant 
level.  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.  Employers are prohibited from 
discriminating against unions and their organizers.  The 
Ministry of Labor enforces this provision.

There are no export processing zones.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The law prohibits forced or compulsory labor, and the Ministry 
of Labor enforces this prohibition.

     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 ET establishes the legal minimum wage, which is 
subsequently implemented by Ministry of Labor decree.  The 
current minimum wage, $95 a month (10,500 Forints) is 
insufficient to provide an adequate standard of living for 
workers and their families.  Many workers, therefore, 
supplement their primary employment with second jobs.

The 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 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.  Enforcement of occupational safety standards is not 
always effective because of the limited resources the Ministry 
of Labor is able to commit to enforcement.  Workers have the 
right to remove themselves from dangerous work situations 
without jeopardy to continued employment.



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[end of document]

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