Greater efforts are needed to promote sustainable and non-discriminatory housing solutions for Roma communities in Hungary, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Director Michael Georg Link said in Budapest on Wednesday.
Link visited Hungary as part of a follow-up to a 2009 visit by an ODIHR team to assess the human rights situation of Roma in the country. The team focused on the security of Roma communities following a string of violent incidents in 2008 and 2009 that resulted in the deaths of several Roma, the injury of numerous others, and the destruction of houses and other property owned by Roma.
During the press conference Link addressed the housing situation in the city of Miskolc where some 25,000 Roma live. He expressed concerns about a situation that erupted last year when local authorities started issuing eviction orders to those living in the “numbered streets” settlement in Miskolc. Those living in “low-comfort” social housing with indefinite contracts were offered compensation of 6,700 euros for terminating their contracts and leaving their homes. Of particular concern was a stipulation that those receiving compensation could only use the funds to purchase property outside the city. This condition was subsequently struck down by the Supreme Court.
“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. “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.”
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