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Hungary Human Rights

Background

The year was marked by political and economic upheaval that led to the resignation of Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány, whose cabinet was replaced by the interim government of Gordon Bajnai. Jobbik Magyarországért Mozgalom (Movement for a Better Hungary), known as Jobbik, an extreme right-wing political party with a strong anti-Roma and an increasingly anti-Semitic agenda, gained three seats at European Parliament elections in June.

Hungary Human Rights

Background

The year was marked by political and economic upheaval that led to the resignation of Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány, whose cabinet was replaced by the interim government of Gordon Bajnai. Jobbik Magyarországért Mozgalom (Movement for a Better Hungary), known as Jobbik, an extreme right-wing political party with a strong anti-Roma and an increasingly anti-Semitic agenda, gained three seats at European Parliament elections in June.

In May, Hungary was elected a member of the UN Human Rights Council, and assumed its membership in June. The 20 billion euro emergency loan from international financial institutions and the EU imposed conditions on the government: it had to cut public sector wages, pensions, social benefits, and other government spending.

In July, the Budapest Court of Appeal issued a legally binding ruling banning Magyar Gárda, an organization linked to the political party Jobbik. The court ruled that Magyar Gárda's activities overstepped its rights as an association and curtailed liberties of the Roma. Later in July, Jobbik announced the relaunch of Magyar Gárda, and one of its newly elected members of the European Parliament wore a Magyar Gárda uniform to the first parliamentary session in Brussels. In December, the Supreme Court upheld the Budapest Court of Appeal ruling banning Magyar Gárda.

Counter-terror and security

In September, the Prime Minister announced that Hungary would accept one detainee from the US naval base in Guantánamo Bay, who would participate in an 18-month integration programme. A Palestinian detainee from Guantánamo Bay was transferred to Hungary on 1 December.

Racism

In February, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance expressed concerns about a sharp rise in racism in public discourse. It also reiterated from previous reports that Roma in Hungary continued to face discrimination in access to employment, education and housing. In October, the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concerns about the rise of extremism, and appealed to all political party leaders to ensure that no xenophobic or anti-Roma statements be made in the 2010 parliamentary election campaign.

Violent attacks against Roma continued. The Hungarian National Bureau of Investigation, a police agency investigating serious crimes, strengthened a special task force to 120 officers to investigate a series of attacks against the Romani community.

In September, about 400 Romani women initiated legal proceedings against Oszkár Molnár, a Member of Parliament of the opposition Fidesz party and Mayor of Edelény, over his alleged defamatory remarks on Romani women. He was also widely criticized by NGOs, other politicians and the media for his anti-Semitic comments during a local TV interview in October.

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