Hungary facing crucial challenges on racism and intolerance, UN expert says

Special Rapporteur Githu Muigai

31 May 2011 – A United Nations human rights expert today urged Hungary to implement the international commitments and obligations that it has made towards tackling racism, xenophobia and intolerance.

Githu Muigai, the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, said crucial challenges await the Central European country on these issues, despite recent initiatives or pledges at international fora and treaties.

In a press statement issued after he wrapped up a five-day visit to Hungary, Mr. Muigai voiced particular concern about the worsening situation faced by the country’s Roma minority.

“They have been the most affected by Hungary’s difficult transition period from socialism to a market-based economy and they continue to face racism, racial discrimination and intolerance in the areas of employment, education, housing and health,” he said.

Mr. Muigai also voiced concern about refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants, and the discrimination and intolerance they suffer on a daily basis, particularly those in detention.

“Immediate action is required to tackle anti-Semitism in Hungary,” he added, calling on the Government to be vigilant and to set up the necessary mechanisms to address the issue.

Mr. Muigai also warned against a rise of extremist political parties, some of which have racist platforms, and he drew the Government’s attention to hate speech.

“It is important to prevent such behaviour and ensure that those responsible for racist acts are held accountable and the victims provided with appropriate legal remedies,” he said.

Mr. Muigai serves as an unpaid, independent expert, reporting to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

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