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OSCE mission head criticizes Roma evictions

History

At a press conference in Budapest yesterday, a visiting human rights official with the OSCE criticized the part that officials played in last year’s eviction of 25,000 mostly Roma residents from a neighborhood in Miskolc.

Speaking after a fact-finding mission in Budapest and Miskolc, eastern Hungary, Michael Georg Link, director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), criticized efforts to force Roma out of Miskolc, and said the evicted residents should have been offered alternative housing.

“In the provision of social housing, the authorities must adhere to OSCE commitments prohibiting discrimination, and to international human rights standards on the right to adequate housing,” Link said.

Last year, Hungarian authorities issued evictions notices against approximately 25,000 mostly Roma residents of the so-called “numbered streets” neighborhood in Miskolc (pictured). Later, those who left their homes were offered compensation money on one condition: that they buy properties outside of the city of Miskolc. This condition was subsequently struck down by the Supreme Court in Hungary.

“We welcome the recent judgment by the Hungarian Supreme Court and the report of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights on the measures by the local council regarding housing provided to Roma residents of Miskolc,” Link said. “We are particularly concerned that, unless they are addressed immediately, discriminatory measures being introduced by local authorities in some parts of the country could set a dangerous precedent and provide a negative example for others.”

During his two-day visit, Link met with Zoltán Balog, Minister of Human Capacity, and several other government officials. He said that he spoke with officials about the importance of social housing.

“I call on the Hungarian local and national authorities to immediately address the findings of these institutions, to implement their recommendations, to halt issuing eviction orders to Roma residents of social housing, and to promote adequate, sustainable, non-discriminatory solutions, in close co-operation with Roma representatives and civil society,” Link said.

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