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Title:  Hungary Human Rights Practices, 1995  
Author:  U.S. Department of State   
Date:  March 1996   
 
 
 
 
                           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 
formed after the 1994 national elections. 
 
The state internal and external security services report directly to a 
minister without portfolio and the police report to the Interior 
Minister.  There continued to be credible reports of police abuses.  
 
The Government has demonstrated through its macroeconomic policies and 
extensive privatization its commitment to the transition to a market 
economy.  About three-fourths of foreign trade is with advanced 
industrial countries.  The private sector generates about 70 percent of 
the gross domestic product; the Government's goal is 80 percent by the 
end of 1997.  After a fitful start, the Government privatized over $3.5 
billion in energy, telecommunications, and banking sector assets during 
the year.  Living standards continued to fall for much of the 
population; real wages fell 10-11 percent in 1995.  Official 
unemployment is approximately 11 percent, but close to 70 percent for 
the Romani community.  Services, trade, and government employ about 45 
percent of the labor force, and industry nearly 30 percent.  Major 
exports include raw materials, semi-finished goods, and chemicals (40 
percent); consumer goods (22 percent); and food and agricultural 
products (20 percent).  An estimated 25 percent of the population live 
in poverty, with elderly pensioners, dependent housewives and children, 
and Roma being at greatest risk. 
 
Although the Government generally respects constitutional 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.  Although senior levels of the Interior Ministry and 
the National Police were more willing to address problems, police 
continued to use excessive force against suspects.  
 
Despite the print media's relatively high degree of independence, 
television and most radio stations are government controlled.   This 
allowed the possibility of politically motivated interference in 
editorial content until a broadcast media law was passed in December.  
The new law insulates state-owned as well as private media from 
government interference.  Social discrimination against Roma remains a 
serious problem, and police commonly harass and abuse the Romani 
population in particular.  The number of anti-Semitic and racist attacks 
continued to fall.  Spousal abuse of women is a serious problem, while 
discrimination affects women in most aspects of daily life. 
 
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 
 
Section 1   Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom 
from: 
 
   a.   Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 
 
There was no evidence of any politically motivated killings.  Police in 
Paszto reportedly beat a suspect to death in July.  One of the officers 
was dismissed, three were suspended, and the police commander resigned.  
A criminal investigation is underway. 
 
   b.   Disappearance 
 
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances. 
 
   c.   Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or 
Punishment 
 
No known incidents of torture occurred.  However, a police officer 
severely beat a soldier who told a joke about police officers.  Police 
also continued to harass and physically abuse Roma.  In one incident in 
Marcali in January, police beat an 18-year-old and then severely beat 
his father when he came to complain. 
 
Police continued to use excessive force against suspects.  In one 
incident in July, a person was pulled from his car and slammed 
repeatedly against it after being stopped for a traffic infraction.  In 
another July incident, a person was beaten after complaining when 
stopped by the police. 
 
The National Police have stiffened internal controls over the past 
several years.  Of some 36,000 officers, 158 were found guilty of 
misconduct and removed from the force in 1994.  Of those, 38 were found 
guilty of physically abusing suspects.  In the first half of 1995, 48 
officers were removed from the force, of whom 8 were found guilty of 
physically abusing suspects.  According to a report by the Hungarian 
Helsinki Committee regarding police misconduct, "...(it) takes place 
every day, though the public is only informed by chance, only in 
conspicuous cases.  Guilty police officers are very rarely condemned, 
and the majority of the officers suspected of such crimes remain on 
duty." 
 
Though prisons are overcrowded, conditions meet minimum international 
standards and the government permits visits by human rights monitors. 
 
 
   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 
disabled.  There are credible reports that police do not always allow 
access to counsel, particularly for minor crimes.  There is no bail 
system; however, depending upon the nature of the crime,  courts may 
release detainees upon their 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 (provided the judge 
concurs).  The lack of a bail system gives tremendous leeway to the 
judge.  In addition, foreigners are considered likely to flee Hungary, 
which means that they are usually held until the trial.  One American 
citizen was released in 1995 after having been held in pretrial 
detention for over 18 months.  Charges were ultimately dropped for lack 
of evidence.  In such cases, the law provides for compensation where the 
accused is released for lack of evidence, but the procedure is rarely 
exercised as victims must file a complaint before a court and undergo a 
complicated legal procedure. 
 
The penal code does not provide for exile, and it is not employed. 
 
   e.   Denial of Fair Public Trial 
 
The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the 
Government respects this provision in practice.  The judiciary provides 
citizens with a fair, though sometimes slow, process. 
 
Under the Constitution, the courts are responsible for the 
administration of justice, with the Supreme Court exercising control 
over the operations and judicature of all the courts.  There are three 
levels of courts.  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.  
In the case of military trials, appeals may also be addressed to the 
Supreme Court. 
 
The Constitutional Court is charged with reviewing the constitutionality 
of laws and statutes brought before it.  Citizens may appeal directly to 
the Constitutional Court if they believe that their constitutional 
rights have been violated.  Parliament elects the Court's members to 9-
year terms, which may be renewed.  No judge or member of the Supreme or 
Constitutional Courts may belong to a political party or engage in 
political activity.  Although the Government has alleged that judges' 
political attitudes have affected decisions, these charges are undercut 
by unanimous decisions in the most controversial cases, with judges 
appointed by the current Government siding with those appointed by the 
current opposition. 
 
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.  There is no jury system; hence 
judges are the final arbiters.   
 
Military trials follow civil law and may be closed if national security 
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 Romani organizations claim that Roma receive less 
than equal treatment in the judicial process.  Specifically, they allege 
that Roma are kept in pretrial detention more often and for longer 
periods of time than non-Roma.  While this allegation is credible in 
light of general discrimination against Roma, there is no statistical 
evidence because official records do not contain the ethnic identity of 
offenders. 
 
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. 
 
There were no reports of political prisoners. 
 
   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 appear to be observed in practice.   
 
Section 2   Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 
 
   a.   Freedom of Speech and Press 
 
The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and the press, and the 
Government generally respects this right in practice.  One Budapest 
daily is still partially state owned (the Government is trying to sell 
it and is not thought to interfere in its editorial content).  The print 
media enjoy considerable freedom.   
 
Parliament passed a media law in December creating institutions to 
foster a free and independent electronic media.  The law provides for 
privatization of major television and radio stations and removal of 
remaining public televison and radio from the direct control of the 
government.  At present, 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.  In 1995 
state-owned Hungarian Radio and Hungarian Television continued to enjoy 
a near monopoly of nationwide broadcasting, and the Prime Minister 
controlled their budgets. 
 
While some limited-range local television licenses were issued, partisan 
political wrangling and, less importantly, 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.) 
 
   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 religions 
receive state subsides.  The Government distributed over $28 million in 
state subsidies among approximately three dozen religious groups.  
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 foreigners from countries that do not have a visa waiver 
agreement with Hungary obtain exit visas each time they leave the 
country, although blanket permission is sometimes available. 
 
The fighting in the former Yugoslavia resulted in a continued flow of 
refugees into Hungary.  While approximately 8,500 refugees from the 
former Yugoslavia are registered in Hungary, the Government estimates 
that over 20,000 more are present in unregistered status.  Most of the 
refugees are in private housing, with only 2,830 (as of September) 
housed in 4 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. 
 
For most of 1995, illegal aliens, mostly non-European, were housed at 
the detention center at Kerepestarcsa pending either deportation or 
qualification for resettlement in a third country.  The determination is 
made 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.  As a result of extensive criticism from domestic and 
international human rights groups as well as the UNHCR, the 
Kerepestarcsa camp was closed in September.  Foreigners denied refugee 
status, or who are simply in Hungary illegally, are either returned to 
their country of origin or held at border guard facilities throughout 
Hungary. 
 
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, Prime 
Minister Gyula Horn's Hungarian  
 
Socialist Party won an absolute majority and formed a coalition 
Government with the Liberal Alliance of Free Democrats.  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; 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 report 
that the Government is generally responsive to their requests for 
information.  However, individual police units 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 
 
The Constitution provides for individual rights, equality, and 
protection against discrimination, but in practice discrimination still 
exists, particularly against Roma.   
 
   Women 
 
Spousal abuse is believed to be common but the vast majority of such 
abuse is not reported, and victims who step forward often receive little 
help from authorities.  While there are laws against rape, it is often 
unreported for cultural reasons.  Police attitudes towards victims of 
sexual abuse reportedly are often unsympathetic, particularly if the 
victim was acquainted with her aggressor.  According to women's 
organizations, the vast majority of rape and abuse cases go unreported.  
Rape within marriage is illegal, but proving it is extremely difficult 
in practice.  According to the National Alliance of Hungarian Women, 
there were 414 reported rapes in 1995 and 271 reported cases of assaults 
on women (the latter is a 1994 statistic). 
 
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 work 
place. 
 
A report prepared under the auspices of the U.N. in evaluating Hungarian 
compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination 
Against Women termed sexual harassment in the workplace as "virtually 
epidemic."  Women's groups report that making women aware of their 
rights is a major problem and specifically criticized state-owned 
television's only partial reinstatement of a program about women's 
issues. 
 
   Children 
 
The Government is committed to children's rights.  Education is 
mandatory through age 16, and employment is illegal below age 16.  There 
is no societal pattern of child abuse.  According to the National 
Alliance of Hungarian Women, there were 528 reported cases of violence 
against children in 1994 (latest available), 190 of which took place 
within the family.   
 
   People With Disabilities 
 
The Government does not mandate accessibility to buildings or government 
services for people with disabilities.  Services for the disabled are 
limited, and most buildings are not wheelchair accessible. 
 
   Religious Minorities 
 
There were few anti-Semitic incidents (almost all graffiti).  There were 
no attacks by skinheads or neo-Nazi sympathizers against the Jewish 
community.  In December, police arrested a man carrying a Molotov 
cocktail outside the main Budapest synagogue. 
 
   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, this 
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 whose members are 
citizens may obtain recognized status under this 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 1994 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 have as their primary 
responsibility influencing and overseeing local matters affecting the 
minorities.  In 1995 these groups elected national minority self-
governments, whose effectiveness has varied.  Some have been aggressive 
and effective, while some have been without purpose and moribund.  The 
non-Roma minorities appear to be the most satisfied, while Romani 
leaders express frustration with the self-governments' lack of clear 
authority, responsibility, or resources.  The greatest value is that it 
gives a platform for minorities to address local and national government 
organizations.  The greatest weakness is that the Government is 
compelled to listen, but not to act.   
 
In 1995 Parliament appointed an Ombudsman--currently an ethnic German--
specifically charged with defending minority rights.  The office, 
however, does not include any Roma, the largest minority group. 
 
Roma constitute at least 4 percent of the population, and Germans, the 
second largest minority group, 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 Romani 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 Romani 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 Romani families, including young 
children, are forced to resort to stealing food.  Roma also constitute a 
majority of the prison population. 
 
The Government sponsors programs both to preserve Romani languages and 
cultural heritage and to assist social and economic assimilation.  
Nonetheless, widespread popular prejudice continues.  Police commonly 
abuse Roma. 
 
The Martin Luther King Organization (MLKO), which documents assaults on 
foreigners of color, recorded 7 such incidents in 1995, down from 16 in 
1994, 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. 
 
Section 6   Workers 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 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 and is actively 
discouraged in the growing private sector.  There is a willingness among 
labor organizations to cooperate with one another, and this 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 a lower one) 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.  Roma are far more likely than non-Roma to 
stop attending school before 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 (12,200 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 
entitlement, 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 any 7-day period. 
 
Labor courts and the Ministry of Labor enforce occupational safety 
standards set by the Government, but specific safety conditions are not 
generally up to internationally accepted standards.  Enforcement of 
occupational safety standards is not always effective in part due to the 
limited resources the Ministry of Labor is able to commit to 
enforcement.  In theory, workers have the right to remove themselves 
from dangerous work situations without jeopardy to continued employment.  
 
(###)
Title:  Hungary Human Rights Practices, 1995  
Author:  U.S. Department of State   
Date:  March 1996   
 
 
 
 
                           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 
formed after the 1994 national elections. 
 
The state internal and external security services report directly to a 
minister without portfolio and the police report to the Interior 
Minister.  There continued to be credible reports of police abuses.  
 
The Government has demonstrated through its macroeconomic policies and 
extensive privatization its commitment to the transition to a market 
economy.  About three-fourths of foreign trade is with advanced 
industrial countries.  The private sector generates about 70 percent of 
the gross domestic product; the Government's goal is 80 percent by the 
end of 1997.  After a fitful start, the Government privatized over $3.5 
billion in energy, telecommunications, and banking sector assets during 
the year.  Living standards continued to fall for much of the 
population; real wages fell 10-11 percent in 1995.  Official 
unemployment is approximately 11 percent, but close to 70 percent for 
the Romani community.  Services, trade, and government employ about 45 
percent of the labor force, and industry nearly 30 percent.  Major 
exports include raw materials, semi-finished goods, and chemicals (40 
percent); consumer goods (22 percent); and food and agricultural 
products (20 percent).  An estimated 25 percent of the population live 
in poverty, with elderly pensioners, dependent housewives and children, 
and Roma being at greatest risk. 
 
Although the Government generally respects constitutional 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.  Although senior levels of the Interior Ministry and 
the National Police were more willing to address problems, police 
continued to use excessive force against suspects.  
 
Despite the print media's relatively high degree of independence, 
television and most radio stations are government controlled.   This 
allowed the possibility of politically motivated interference in 
editorial content until a broadcast media law was passed in December.  
The new law insulates state-owned as well as private media from 
government interference.  Social discrimination against Roma remains a 
serious problem, and police commonly harass and abuse the Romani 
population in particular.  The number of anti-Semitic and racist attacks 
continued to fall.  Spousal abuse of women is a serious problem, while 
discrimination affects women in most aspects of daily life. 
 
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 
 
Section 1   Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom 
from: 
 
   a.   Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 
 
There was no evidence of any politically motivated killings.  Police in 
Paszto reportedly beat a suspect to death in July.  One of the officers 
was dismissed, three were suspended, and the police commander resigned.  
A criminal investigation is underway. 
 
   b.   Disappearance 
 
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances. 
 
   c.   Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or 
Punishment 
 
No known incidents of torture occurred.  However, a police officer 
severely beat a soldier who told a joke about police officers.  Police 
also continued to harass and physically abuse Roma.  In one incident in 
Marcali in January, police beat an 18-year-old and then severely beat 
his father when he came to complain. 
 
Police continued to use excessive force against suspects.  In one 
incident in July, a person was pulled from his car and slammed 
repeatedly against it after being stopped for a traffic infraction.  In 
another July incident, a person was beaten after complaining when 
stopped by the police. 
 
The National Police have stiffened internal controls over the past 
several years.  Of some 36,000 officers, 158 were found guilty of 
misconduct and removed from the force in 1994.  Of those, 38 were found 
guilty of physically abusing suspects.  In the first half of 1995, 48 
officers were removed from the force, of whom 8 were found guilty of 
physically abusing suspects.  According to a report by the Hungarian 
Helsinki Committee regarding police misconduct, "...(it) takes place 
every day, though the public is only informed by chance, only in 
conspicuous cases.  Guilty police officers are very rarely condemned, 
and the majority of the officers suspected of such crimes remain on 
duty." 
 
Though prisons are overcrowded, conditions meet minimum international 
standards and the government permits visits by human rights monitors. 
 
 
   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 
disabled.  There are credible reports that police do not always allow 
access to counsel, particularly for minor crimes.  There is no bail 
system; however, depending upon the nature of the crime,  courts may 
release detainees upon their 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 (provided the judge 
concurs).  The lack of a bail system gives tremendous leeway to the 
judge.  In addition, foreigners are considered likely to flee Hungary, 
which means that they are usually held until the trial.  One American 
citizen was released in 1995 after having been held in pretrial 
detention for over 18 months.  Charges were ultimately dropped for lack 
of evidence.  In such cases, the law provides for compensation where the 
accused is released for lack of evidence, but the procedure is rarely 
exercised as victims must file a complaint before a court and undergo a 
complicated legal procedure. 
 
The penal code does not provide for exile, and it is not employed. 
 
   e.   Denial of Fair Public Trial 
 
The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the 
Government respects this provision in practice.  The judiciary provides 
citizens with a fair, though sometimes slow, process. 
 
Under the Constitution, the courts are responsible for the 
administration of justice, with the Supreme Court exercising control 
over the operations and judicature of all the courts.  There are three 
levels of courts.  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.  
In the case of military trials, appeals may also be addressed to the 
Supreme Court. 
 
The Constitutional Court is charged with reviewing the constitutionality 
of laws and statutes brought before it.  Citizens may appeal directly to 
the Constitutional Court if they believe that their constitutional 
rights have been violated.  Parliament elects the Court's members to 9-
year terms, which may be renewed.  No judge or member of the Supreme or 
Constitutional Courts may belong to a political party or engage in 
political activity.  Although the Government has alleged that judges' 
political attitudes have affected decisions, these charges are undercut 
by unanimous decisions in the most controversial cases, with judges 
appointed by the current Government siding with those appointed by the 
current opposition. 
 
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.  There is no jury system; hence 
judges are the final arbiters.   
 
Military trials follow civil law and may be closed if national security 
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 Romani organizations claim that Roma receive less 
than equal treatment in the judicial process.  Specifically, they allege 
that Roma are kept in pretrial detention more often and for longer 
periods of time than non-Roma.  While this allegation is credible in 
light of general discrimination against Roma, there is no statistical 
evidence because official records do not contain the ethnic identity of 
offenders. 
 
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. 
 
There were no reports of political prisoners. 
 
   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 appear to be observed in practice.   
 
Section 2   Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 
 
   a.   Freedom of Speech and Press 
 
The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and the press, and the 
Government generally respects this right in practice.  One Budapest 
daily is still partially state owned (the Government is trying to sell 
it and is not thought to interfere in its editorial content).  The print 
media enjoy considerable freedom.   
 
Parliament passed a media law in December creating institutions to 
foster a free and independent electronic media.  The law provides for 
privatization of major television and radio stations and removal of 
remaining public televison and radio from the direct control of the 
government.  At present, 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.  In 1995 
state-owned Hungarian Radio and Hungarian Television continued to enjoy 
a near monopoly of nationwide broadcasting, and the Prime Minister 
controlled their budgets. 
 
While some limited-range local television licenses were issued, partisan 
political wrangling and, less importantly, 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.) 
 
   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 religions 
receive state subsides.  The Government distributed over $28 million in 
state subsidies among approximately three dozen religious groups.  
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 foreigners from countries that do not have a visa waiver 
agreement with Hungary obtain exit visas each time they leave the 
country, although blanket permission is sometimes available. 
 
The fighting in the former Yugoslavia resulted in a continued flow of 
refugees into Hungary.  While approximately 8,500 refugees from the 
former Yugoslavia are registered in Hungary, the Government estimates 
that over 20,000 more are present in unregistered status.  Most of the 
refugees are in private housing, with only 2,830 (as of September) 
housed in 4 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. 
 
For most of 1995, illegal aliens, mostly non-European, were housed at 
the detention center at Kerepestarcsa pending either deportation or 
qualification for resettlement in a third country.  The determination is 
made 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.  As a result of extensive criticism from domestic and 
international human rights groups as well as the UNHCR, the 
Kerepestarcsa camp was closed in September.  Foreigners denied refugee 
status, or who are simply in Hungary illegally, are either returned to 
their country of origin or held at border guard facilities throughout 
Hungary. 
 
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, Prime 
Minister Gyula Horn's Hungarian  
 
Socialist Party won an absolute majority and formed a coalition 
Government with the Liberal Alliance of Free Democrats.  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; 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 report 
that the Government is generally responsive to their requests for 
information.  However, individual police units 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 
 
The Constitution provides for individual rights, equality, and 
protection against discrimination, but in practice discrimination still 
exists, particularly against Roma.   
 
   Women 
 
Spousal abuse is believed to be common but the vast majority of such 
abuse is not reported, and victims who step forward often receive little 
help from authorities.  While there are laws against rape, it is often 
unreported for cultural reasons.  Police attitudes towards victims of 
sexual abuse reportedly are often unsympathetic, particularly if the 
victim was acquainted with her aggressor.  According to women's 
organizations, the vast majority of rape and abuse cases go unreported.  
Rape within marriage is illegal, but proving it is extremely difficult 
in practice.  According to the National Alliance of Hungarian Women, 
there were 414 reported rapes in 1995 and 271 reported cases of assaults 
on women (the latter is a 1994 statistic). 
 
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 work 
place. 
 
A report prepared under the auspices of the U.N. in evaluating Hungarian 
compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination 
Against Women termed sexual harassment in the workplace as "virtually 
epidemic."  Women's groups report that making women aware of their 
rights is a major problem and specifically criticized state-owned 
television's only partial reinstatement of a program about women's 
issues. 
 
   Children 
 
The Government is committed to children's rights.  Education is 
mandatory through age 16, and employment is illegal below age 16.  There 
is no societal pattern of child abuse.  According to the National 
Alliance of Hungarian Women, there were 528 reported cases of violence 
against children in 1994 (latest available), 190 of which took place 
within the family.   
 
   People With Disabilities 
 
The Government does not mandate accessibility to buildings or government 
services for people with disabilities.  Services for the disabled are 
limited, and most buildings are not wheelchair accessible. 
 
   Religious Minorities 
 
There were few anti-Semitic incidents (almost all graffiti).  There were 
no attacks by skinheads or neo-Nazi sympathizers against the Jewish 
community.  In December, police arrested a man carrying a Molotov 
cocktail outside the main Budapest synagogue. 
 
   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, this 
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 whose members are 
citizens may obtain recognized status under this 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 1994 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 have as their primary 
responsibility influencing and overseeing local matters affecting the 
minorities.  In 1995 these groups elected national minority self-
governments, whose effectiveness has varied.  Some have been aggressive 
and effective, while some have been without purpose and moribund.  The 
non-Roma minorities appear to be the most satisfied, while Romani 
leaders express frustration with the self-governments' lack of clear 
authority, responsibility, or resources.  The greatest value is that it 
gives a platform for minorities to address local and national government 
organizations.  The greatest weakness is that the Government is 
compelled to listen, but not to act.   
 
In 1995 Parliament appointed an Ombudsman--currently an ethnic German--
specifically charged with defending minority rights.  The office, 
however, does not include any Roma, the largest minority group. 
 
Roma constitute at least 4 percent of the population, and Germans, the 
second largest minority group, 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 Romani 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 Romani 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 Romani families, including young 
children, are forced to resort to stealing food.  Roma also constitute a 
majority of the prison population. 
 
The Government sponsors programs both to preserve Romani languages and 
cultural heritage and to assist social and economic assimilation.  
Nonetheless, widespread popular prejudice continues.  Police commonly 
abuse Roma. 
 
The Martin Luther King Organization (MLKO), which documents assaults on 
foreigners of color, recorded 7 such incidents in 1995, down from 16 in 
1994, 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. 
 
Section 6   Workers 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 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 and is actively 
discouraged in the growing private sector.  There is a willingness among 
labor organizations to cooperate with one another, and this 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 a lower one) 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.  Roma are far more likely than non-Roma to 
stop attending school before 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 (12,200 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 
entitlement, 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 any 7-day period. 
 
Labor courts and the Ministry of Labor enforce occupational safety 
standards set by the Government, but specific safety conditions are not 
generally up to internationally accepted standards.  Enforcement of 
occupational safety standards is not always effective in part due to the 
limited resources the Ministry of Labor is able to commit to 
enforcement.  In theory, workers have the right to remove themselves 
from dangerous work situations without jeopardy to continued employment.  
 
(###)

[end of document]

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