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Experts of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Commend Hungary’s Recognition at the Constitutional Level of Sign Language, and Ask about Guardianship

10 March 2022

The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities today concluded its consideration of the combined second and third periodic reports of Hungary on its implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  Experts commended Hungary on its recognition at the Constitutional level of Sign Language, and asked about guardianship.

A Committee Expert said Hungary’s recognition at the Constitutional level of Sign Language was commendable, as was its National Disability Programme 2015–2025, but the Committee still observed barriers that seriously impeded persons with disabilities’ exercise of their rights to live in society on an equal basis with others. About guardianship, Committee Experts asked what steps had been taken to abolish guardianship laws in Hungary and replace them with supported decision-making?  How could individuals under guardianship still have their choices respected in any decision-making process about them?  How could someone under guardianship challenge their status?

In the ensuing discussion, the delegation explained that the national media authority ran monthly checks to see whether subtitles and Sign Language interpreters were provided in line with the regulations for people with hearing disabilities.  As for issues of guardianship, when it came to restricting legal capacity, courts must take into consideration the life circumstances of the person concerned.  In Hungary, legal capacity could only be limited subject to a court ruling.  It was vital that judges in guardianship cases had a high degree of empathy, sense of responsibility and conscientious judgment.  In those procedures, the judge must listen to the respondent in person, and if they could not attend, the Court would hold a hearing at the venue where the respondent was staying. 

Attila Fülöp, State Secretary, Ministry of Human Capacities of Hungary and head of the delegation, said the Hungarian Government was committed to promoting accessibility in accordance with the Convention, by putting new information and communication technologies at the service of disability issues.  Social change and developments that had taken place in Hungary in the past decade to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities was unprecedented.  The spirit of the Convention had served as an anchor in that development process.

Ákos Kozma, Commissioner for Fundamental Rights of Hungary, said people with disabilities enjoyed a high level support in Hungary, without discrimination.  The Convention was a part of the legal system in Hungary.  The Government was now providing social services to people with disabilities in the framework of supported living.  The process should be accelerated, and the existence of large institutions should be ended as soon as possible. 

In concluding remarks, Mr. Fülöp thanked the Committee for the constructive dialogue.  It was hoped that the delegation had managed to provide substantive answers letting the Committee evaluate the efforts of the country, taking into consideration Hungary’s history. 

Mr. Kozma said it was a personal mission and a guarantee to personally represent the enforcement of the rights of persons with disabilities.  There was a consensus in Hungary to continue efforts for the full protection and maintenance of the rights of persons with disabilities.

Robert George Martin, Committee Expert and Committee Co-Rapporteur for Hungary, thanked everyone who had been part of the review process and called on the State party to stop using the medical model of disability and start using the human rights model.  Hungary had many challenges ahead to make the situation right, but it could be done and it was time for change.

Rosemary Kayess, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation for the constructive dialogue with the Committee and hoped it would assist them to further implement the Convention.
 
The delegation of Hungary consisted of representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade; the Ministry of Human Capacities; the Ministry of Justice; the Ministry of Interior; the Ministry of Innovation and Technology; the National Office for the Judiciary; the National Directorate-General for Aliens Policing; and the Permanent Mission of Hungary to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

Information relating to the Committee’s session, including reports submitted by States parties, are available here.  The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings will be available via the following link: http://webtv.un.org/meetings-events/.

The Committee will next meet in public at 3 p.m. on Thursday, 10 March, to conclude its consideration of the initial report of Jamaica (CRPD/C/JAM1/Rev.1).

Report
The Committee has before it the combined second and third period reports of Hungary (CRPD/C/HUN/2-3).

Presentation of the Report

ATTILA FÜLÖP, State Secretary, Ministry of Human Capacities of Hungary and head of the delegation, said that previously in Hungary, those who had disabilities and needed support were mostly exiled to large institutions on the outskirts of settlements.  Now, Hungary had taken steps to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities on a scale which had not been seen before.  One of the most important conditions for independent living was the creation of employment opportunities.  In 2010, only 18 per cent of people disabilities had a job.  Today, their employment rate had increased to 44 per cent.  The Government prioritised the situation of families raising children with disabilities.  A new allowance for parents who could not provide care for their children had been introduced, and existing benefits were being increased.

The Hungarian Government was committed to promoting accessibility in accordance with the Convention, by putting new information and communication technologies at the service of disability issues.  Community-based forms of care were being developed instead of institutional forms of care, with nearly 3.000 people having been moved from large institutions to subsidised housing so far.  Social change and developments that had taken place in Hungary in the past decade to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities was unprecedented.  The spirit of the Convention had served as an anchor in that development process.

ÁKOS KOZMA, Commissioner for Fundamental Rights of Hungary, said people with disabilities enjoyed a high level support in Hungary, without discrimination.  The Convention was a part of the legal system in Hungary.  Legislation existed in Hungary for around the issue of legal capacity; yet supported decision-making required structural changes.  The Government’s determined steps to move people from large-scale institutions to more individual systems was welcome; the ultimate goal was to provide independent living.  The Government was now providing social services to people with disabilities in the framework of supported living.  The process should be accelerated, and the existence of large institutions should be ended as soon as possible.  The Commissioner’s Office had carried out several investigations, whose findings had been taken into consideration by the Government. 

Questions by the Committee Experts

JONAS RUSKUS, Committee Vice Chair and Country Co-Rapporteur for Hungary, called for the Russian Federation to immediately cease hostilities in Ukraine, saying that the military attacks had caused immense suffering and irreparable harm through violations of fundamental human rights and humanitarian law, as well as having a disastrous impact on people in Ukraine, including those with disabilities.  The protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk, including in armed conflict, humanitarian emergencies and migration, was an obligation under international law, including under the Convention. 

Thanking the State party for its comprehensive reply to the list of issues, Mr. Ruskus noted that in ratifying the Convention in 2007, Hungary had expressed its will and commitment to domesticate the human rights standards into its national policies, legislation, and practice.  Hungary’s recognition of Sign Language at the Constitutional level was commendable, as was its National Disability Programme 2015–2025, but the Committee still observed barriers that seriously impeded persons with disabilities’ exercise of their rights to live in society on an equal basis with others.  Those barriers included lack of accessibility for persons with disabilities to transportation, information and communication, and a lack of community-based services, including for families of children with disabilities.

The lack of provisions for inclusive education was of concern, Mr. Ruskus continued, adding that the emphasis on the incapacities of a person, instead of emphasis on the elimination of barriers in the environment, prevailed.  There was a lack of recognition of persons with disabilities as rights-holders.  The delegation should use the dialogue to inform the Committee about the measures that had been taken in the State Party for ensuring independent living provisions for persons with disabilities, under the process of deinstitutionalization.  Information had been received by the Committee about the lack of involvement of organisations of persons with disabilities in the decision-making in matters that concerned them.  Information received alleging reprisals against civil society organisations for advocacy work in Hungary was of concern. 

ROBERT GEORGE MARTIN, Committee Expert and Committee Co-Rapporteur for Hungary, welcomed the delegation of Hungary and noted that the State party had established ways for persons with disabilities to participate in processes, including through a working group on human rights and the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Disability.  However, civil society organizations said that persons with disabilities were still not consulted on matters that concerned them.  How would that be improved?  Were there any organizations of persons with disabilities that were led by people with intellectual disabilities?  Why had social workers and people working in the health system in Hungary not heard about the Committee in any training about the rights of persons of disabilities, and what was Hungary doing to educate those professionals?  Were people with disabilities involved in the delivery of training about the Convention and what were plans to involve them?

Another Committee Expert asked the delegation to inform about how Hungary was including gender and disability in its Action Plan for implementing the national disability programme.

Another Committee Expert asked what legal, political or practical measures were being adopted within Government, to identify and prevent torture and mistreatment of children with disabilities, including those living in institutions.  What was being done to ensure instances were being investigated and perpetrators brought to justice?

A Committee Expert asked what were the avenues for persons with disabilities who felt discriminated against, to report it?  What measures were taken to address their situation?  How were the organizations of persons with disabilities assisted to be able to participate in all aspects of life in Hungary, including matters that involved them?

A Committee Expert asked which steps were being taken to ensure the inclusion of women and girls with disabilities in the operation of the national machinery for the advancement of women?  Could an update be provided on steps taken to implement the concluding observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child from 2020, to phase out the discrimination of children with disabilities and urgently close institutions?  How had efforts been strengthened to support children with disabilities and their families, including through financial assistance?

A Committee Expert said information had been received about a lack of accessibility, asking how Hungary guaranteed access to public venues, as well as transport in rural and urban areas.  What efforts were being taken to ensure developers complied with their obligation to make sure all buildings were accessible?  What penalty was applied if they did not guarantee accessibility?  Had public servants received appropriate training on the treatment of persons with disabilities?

A Committee Expert asked if the delegation could inform the committee about the measures in place for the empowerment of women and girls with disabilities.  Could the delegation inform the Committee about measures to include children with disables in mainstream society?  What measures had been taken to discontinue the institutionalization of children with disabilities?  What measures were being taken among the public, especially media, to take a more proactive step in raising public awareness on disability issues?

A Committee Expert asked what measures were being taken to ensure the inclusion of children with disabilities in regular public education systems?

A Committee Expert noted that accessibility requirements were enforced in the domestic accessibility legislation, but the implementation of the legislation was not sufficient.  Could the delegation provide information about measures to better enforce the national accessibility legislation?  What was the percentage of news and programmes for children which had been broadcasted in accessible formats, including sign language?  Could the delegation indicate the number of newly developed Web sites and other mobile applications which met Web accessibility guidelines?

Responses by the Delegation

In response to questions about civil participation, the delegation explained that Hungary had launched a scholarship program that allowed people living with disabilities to work within certain frameworks.  A National Council had been set up for people living with disabilities, and no decision was made by the Government without consultation with that Council.  The reestablishment of the Council had taken place in 2021, and organizations focusing on the rights of women and children living with disabilities were given the opportunity to participate.  In terms of civilian life, Hungary supported advocacy non-governmental organizations.  Those groups received funds as dedicated items within the budget.  A discussion and reconciliation platform existed, which focused on the replacement of large institutional places. 

The protection of children living with disabilities was a key topic.  Hungary was committed to the spirit of the Convention and to focus on children living with disabilities, offering them opportunities to fully participate in social life.  Children could be placed in institutions instead of with foster parents only in cases where that was in the best interest of the child.  Over half of children with disabilities now lived within families.  In 2018, a child abuse protocol had been introduced, which meant that specialist institutions must report instances of abuse.  A unique whistleblowing system was available to children which involved different members of society, including visitors and medical personnel.  All stakeholders who performed guardianship roles had obligations in that manner. 

In 2018, Hungary had introduced a new form of wage supplement for individuals who could not take up employment as they were bringing up a child with a disability.  Children with individual education needs received a full spectrum of services at nursery school level.  There was still room for development in terms of accessibility, but several programmes had been launched, and nearly all administration points were fully accessible.  Since 2018, Hungary had initiated a programme for citizens with visual impairment, providing free access to Hungarian language versions of the most supportive software; 4,500 people had taken advantage of that.  Transportation was the area where Hungary had made the largest efforts, removing barriers at stations and from buses and railway carriages. 

According to the building permit procedure, there was an obligation to investigate compliance with the relevant legislation.  The current legislative environment required that any building for public service should be accessible and there was no possibility to deviate from that standard.  When a person with a disability wished to move around, assistance was provided to improve people’s mobility and access to services.  In response to questions about the Convention being implemented in the Hungarian legal system, the delegation explained that an important amendment was that disability was not being viewed in relation to health care, but rather in terms of full inclusion in society.  In 2020, a designated Committee had been commissioned to further shape the existing legislation in the spirit of the Convention.  Under the new and amended law, Hungary provided fundamental rights to everybody without discrimination. 

The number of children participating in education in an integrated manner was increasing.  All children living with disabilities participated in integrated education or in the education system.  There was a high ratio of institutions which met the demands of children with special education needs, with 80 per cent of the entire network able to be accessed by children living with disabilities.  Services were available at the same level to different disability groups.  In terms of vocational training, significant efforts had been made, with the need for specialist services remaining high.  In the traditional educational system, the curriculum placed significant emphasis on recognising the special needs of children living with disabilities and ensuring that adequate professional methodologies could be offered to meet the special education needs of children.  The national curriculum was renewed in 2020 and had a focus on children living with disabilities, particularly in the field of education about democracy and taking responsibility for others.  The idea was to boost the sensitivity of the younger generation toward people living with disabilities. 

Hungary had introduced an Action Plan which had a special focus on people living with disabilities, in particular women.  The Action Plan had dedicated programmes for women living with disabilities and offered free mental health services supported by psychiatrists.  The fundamental law stated that those who were willing to work in Hungary should be able to work, in a position in line with their capabilities.  Hungary believed that social security could be created by ensuring that people had a regular income, including those living with disabilities. 

In terms of abortion, people with limited legal capacity had protective measures placed on them.  Hungary was fully committed to ensuring that local governments had a role to play in that respect.  An asset program carried out with the involvement of social organizations allowed people to discover positive aspects of people living with disabilities.  The ban on discrimination was seen as a guarantee within Hungarian legislation.  Hungary was fully committed to upholding the provisions of the Convention and popularising it in the widest way possible.

Follow-up questions by Committee Experts

A Committee Expert asked what Hungary was doing to support refugees with disabilities coming into the country from Ukraine.  Further, there were still 60,000 people under guardianship in Hungary, and that figure had increased in recent years.  What steps had been taken to abolish guardianship laws in Hungary and replace them with supported decision-making?  How could individuals under guardianship still have their choices respected in any decision-making process about them?  How could someone under guardianship challenge their status?  What was the status of the institutionalisation process in Hungary?  How many children and adults were still institutionalised across the country? 

A Committee Expert asked for information about criminal cases and data available related to abuse and torture of people with disabilities living in institutions.  Which monitoring mechanisms existed for people with disabilities living in institutions?

A Committee Expert asked about access to justice, requesting that the delegation qualify the procedures and assistance given to legal services when people with disabilities were involved in legal matters.  What were avenues for legal assistance and what legal assistance was given to them?  Why was Hungary slow to move on from de-institutionalisation, and what were plans for those in institutions to be able to live independently in the community?

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation said the Convention was an important part of the Hungarian legal system and was recognized as any other law in Hungary.  In 2014 the new civil code entered into force, reforming the rules concerning legal capacity.  Guardianship was an institution which was in place in several European countries. Full restriction of legal capacity could be decided if a partial limitation was not sufficient.  The law said guardians must listen to the wishes of the person concerned and whenever possible that must be taken into consideration. 

When it came to restricting legal capacity, courts must take into consideration the life circumstances of the person concerned.  The first choice to serve as a guardian was a relative, if there was such a person and if that was requested by the person placed under guardianship.  If someone committed a crime against someone with a disability, they would receive a more severe punishment.  For persons who required it during legal proceedings, Sign Language and other interpretation needed to be ensured.  Vulnerable groups were entitled to special help, to ensure equality before the law.  In Hungary, legal capacity could only be limited subject to a court ruling.  It was vital that judges in guardianship cases had a high degree of empathy, sense of responsibility and conscientious judgment.  In those procedures, the judge must listen to the respondent in person, and if they could not attend, the Court would hold a hearing at the venue where the respondent was staying.  During the procedure, the Court could listen to witnesses and the affected person was able to request specific witnesses.  Any ruling passed by the Court could be appealed by the person concerned.  The foundation of limiting legal capacity was the mental capacity of the person concerned.  The person concerned could request the termination of guardianship.  Based on legally effective rulings from 2021, partial guardianship and full guardianship had been applied to 53,000 people.  That was a reduction from 2013 (56,000) and Hungary hoped to continue to see that number go down. 

Refugees with disabilities were identified in several ways, including self-identification and through pre-screening checkups.  The European Union’s refugee agency had a set of guidelines which considered the pieces of evidence in cases.  The refugee authority was obliged to provide separate placement for people with disabilities, but the maintenance of integrity of the family was also observed, which was the fundamental criteria when deciding where to place the person concerned.  In Hungary, there was only a single institution where people were kept in a guarded and closed center, with the residential rooms upstairs.  On the ground floor there were premises suitable for admitting people with disabilities.  The center would be fully renovated in 2022, offering accommodation for people with disabilities in line with their condition and needs.  A member of any vulnerable group would have their cases fast-tracked by the asylum directorate and be individually assessed.

Victims of relationship abuse in Hungary were given assistance through for instance a telephone and chat function which were available at all hours, with 20 rescue centers and 8 secret centers which provided physical protection.  A dedicated center was available for children.  In large institutions, there was community support to enable people with disabilities to live an independent life.  Hungary believed that supported living was fully in line with the Convention, to help people with disabilities live an independent life with support.  If a person had been socialised in an institution for around 20 years, the removal process must consider that person’s own, personal wishes.  A programme had been introduced for families bringing up children with disabilities, enabling them receive personal assistance from helpers.  In terms of aids, medical doctors issued prescriptions after consultation with patients.  Together they chose the necessary product, and the prescription could be taken to a special shop that offered medical aid.  The product could be purchased with State support. 

A majority of students were studying under an integrated, not segregated scheme.  Hungary would do everything possible to make sure that children were not brought up in institutions.  The termination of large children’s homes had already started, with just 500 children remaining in large institutions.  The national media authority ran monthly checks to see whether subtitles and Sign Language interpreters were provided in line with the regulations for people with hearing disabilities.  Directives had been introduced, which said that audio-visual media service operations must strive to gradually boost the accessibility of content provided for people living with disabilities.  Regarding inter-city coach transport, nearly half of them were accessible, a significant increase over the recent years.  A detailed survey of accessible coaches and buses had been undertaken, which showed that nearly all accessible buses could take wheelchairs.  Improvements needed to be made in the railway, where only 18 percent of rolling stock was fully accessible. 

Follow-up Questions by Committee Experts

A Committee Expert asked about the current refugee situation in Europe, following Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.  How did the Hungarian Government ensure the protection of refugees and immigrants with disabilities?  Further, cage beds were being used in institutions, as well as other means of constraint.  How long would it take to do away with institutions for adults?  Those people were not receiving equal treatment, and their conditions verged on torture.  When would the current regulations concerning legal capacity be amended? 

A Committee Expert asked what measures were being taken to remove the figure of the guardian, not just changing it?

A Committee Expert asked if the delegation could provide information on the formal mechanism in place to identify and address the needs of asylum seekers with disabilities, particularly unaccompanied minors. 

Another Committee Expert noted that information had been received about children with psychological disabilities being placed in isolation as a form of punishment; what was being done to abolish such practices? 

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation explained people living with disabilities had full legal capacity and there were no limitations.  People with mental disabilities had opportunities for supported decision-making.  It was only to help people with disabilities that certain guardianship tasks could be allocated or identified.  The number of people under guardianship showed a continuous decline since 2015, from 64,000 to 53,000 at present.  While reviewing the civil code, Hungary would assess whether the number of people under guardianship could be further reduced. 

Transit zones had been closed in May 2020 and accordingly, asylum seekers would not be placed in such institutions.  There were 42 non-governmental organizations overseeing people living with mental disabilities and ensuring that the accommodation offered to refugees from Ukraine was adequate.  A guarded reception facility and an open facility would be opened in Hungary, which would both be suitable for receiving persons with disabilities. 

If someone entered Hungary as a minor, that person enjoyed the same rights as any child who was a citizen.  There was a large Hungarian minority living in Ukraine, so it was natural that Hungary would provide all possible assistance to Ukrainian refugees.  180,000 people had entered Hungary from Ukraine.  Those people did not need to show documents and were given free access to transportation facilities. 

Questions by Committee Experts

A Committee Expert asked about the situation of women with disabilities who were institutionalised, saying that prevented them from exercising their right to form a family, asking for more information on the topic and on women’s medical care.

A Committee Expert noted that when describing the de-institutionalisation program, the delegation referred to supported living.  What did that mean, and how did it differ from institutionalisation?  What was the impact of specific provisions in the labour code regarding persons with disabilities?  It was noted there had been a shift from the disability pension to the disability benefit.  What difference had that made to the lives of people with disabilities?  How were people assessed to receive those benefits?

A Committee Expert asked the delegation to explain the legal and other measures in place to prohibit the separation of children from their parents, on the basis of the children’s or the parents’ disabilities.  What measures were in place to provide support for children with disabilities and their families?   It was noted that the Hungarian system made it hard for single parents to cater for themselves.  What measures were in place to assist women who had children with disabilities, or who themselves had disabilities?  What steps had been taken to restrict laws that restricted the participation of people with disabilities in the electoral process and public affairs?  Could the Committee be updated on the measures put in place to ensure physical and accessible formats, to ensure all persons with disabilities were guaranteed security in the voting process?

A Committee Expert asked the delegation to inform the Committee on measures taken to improve the standard of living for persons with disabilities, including those with reduced capacity to work.

A Committee expert asked for further clarification on the measures taken to include students with disabilities, and whether Hungarian Sign Language was being fully implemented in schools and universities, as well as assistance technologies.  What measures had been taken by the State to raise awareness among the parents of children with disabilities about the concept of inclusive education?  What measures had been taken to train teachers in inclusive education? 

A Committee Expert asked about steps taken to revise the Public Education Act to eliminate all discrimination in the education of children with disabilities?  What had been done to ensure a bilingual education and general education system for deaf children and those hard of hearing?  What measures were taken to switch from sheltered employment to an open labour market for persons with disabilities?  What measures had been taken to ensure access for all persons with disabilities to general recreational, leisure and sporting activities?  Which measures were taken to ensure unified databases for persons with disabilities?  The system was fragmented across the different sectors of Hungary. 

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation explained that housing and social services were separate.  Over the last decade, supported housing services were used by increasing numbers of people.  In Hungary, supported housing was not just a replacement for institutional housing.  The social needs of the client were identified, and a map created for the client of the supportive services available.  The life of people staying in supported housing was similar to that of other citizens, who were able to leave for work and return home after, while institutionalised people did not leave the premises often and the day was centered around a fixed order.  A new house had been commissioned for eight very high-need people with multiple disabilities.  For people living with disabilities, it was possible to marry in any institution or live together with their common-law spouse.  There were demands for partnerships among patients at over 70 per cent of institutions, and the institutions supported that.

The fundamental law of Hungary said that all children had the right to protection which ensured their physical and mental development.  The Children’s Protection Act set out that children could only be taken away from their parents if that was in their best interest.  Children with disabilities growing up within their families were given free meals, and families were given assistance for transportation services including purchasing a car.  In Hungary, family benefits were paid to support the cost of bringing up children, and that was paid at a higher rate to families who were bringing up children with disabilities.  A disability benefit was also paid to children with multiple disabilities when they reached the age of 18.

A key point of the Public Education Act was promoting the skills of children living with unique education needs.  A position paper issued by a specialist group had set out what kind of education was best suited to different children, whether they needed to be separated from other students or if they were able to participate in an integrated education scheme.  Parents were the able to make the choice based on the findings of that paper.  Students living with disabilities received assistance during their education, including longer time for providing exam answers, extra aid, and the opportunity to be fully or partially exempt from the grading system.  Children with special needs also received free textbooks.  There were more than 10,000 special needs teachers in the Hungarian education system, a number which had doubled over the past decade.  A system which cared for children with multiple disabilities.  While Hungary was not unique in that, the country was one of the few where those children were included in the public education system and could participate until the age of 23. 

A plan had been implemented whereby buildings which had served as hospitals had full wheelchair accessibility.  People with learning difficulties were able to access special centers for dentistry where dentists with a special competence were available to treat patients.  People with disabilities who lived in their own homes had been able to receive the COVID-19 vaccination at home, and the vaccination points were also accessible.  Remote-consultation services could be accessed, and the system had received positive feedback from people with disabilities who called the system lifesaving, as they were able to access essential health services from their homes. 

There was a new system under which disability benefits were provided subject to a complex assessment, which looked at social and vocational aspects as well as medical aspects.  Two new benefits were in place: The rehabilitation benefit and the disability benefit.  Several measures had been taken to increase employment of people with disabilities.  Employers could receive a tax reduction if they employed people with disabilities.  A job-seeking portal was being developed which specially targeted people with disabilities.  The new fundamental law which had come into effect in 2012 ensured equal and free election rights to all Hungarian citizens, with the only exemptions subject to a court ruling where a judge would take into consideration unique circumstances.  People with disabilities had access to several help and support functions throughout the electoral process.  Special rules were set out to ensure that the voting rights of people with disabilities were not limited.  People with disabilities could request a mobile polling station, allowing them to cast their vote in their own home, with confidentiality fully ensured.  Citizens who were unable to read or exercise their voting rights could be assisted by someone of their choice.  The Hungarian Government placed a special emphasis on ensuring that people with disabilities were able to exercise their voting rights. 

The Sports Act was fully in the line with the requirements of the Convention.  Programmes had been implemented resulting in more than 1,400 accessible sports parks, gyms and swimming facilities now being built, providing access for people with disabilities.  Scholarship programs for para-athletes had been launched, and a national student association for athletes with disabilities organized competitions.  A festive day for Hungarian para-sports had been held where 500 institutions had participated, with the goal of popularizing para-sports in Hungary.  Hungary had provided significant opportunities for people with disabilities to engage in sport, with significant infrastructure put in place.

Follow-up Questions by Committee Experts

A Committee Expert remarked on the terminology used by the delegation, reminding the delegation that children with disabilities did not have special needs, but had the same needs that all children had.  Persons in supported housing remained under a substituted decision-making regime.  What measures were being taken to ensure accessibility of vocational education to people with disabilities?  What measures were being taken to tackle the segregation of Roma children with disabilities?  What plans were there to assemble the data statistics systems on persons with disabilities and their barriers within society? 

A Committee Expert asked about the obligatory nature of giving contraception to women with intellectual disabilities living in institutions, saying that prevented them from exercising their right to start a family.  What measures were being taken to prevent those serious violations of the rights with women with disabilities living in institutions?

A Committee Expert noted that there were specific provisions for persons with disabilities in the labor code, asking what impact those provisions had on the employment of persons with disabilities. 

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation said there were important guarantees to make sure there was no forced sterilization taking place in Hungary.  Surveys conducted in institutions showed there was no difference in opinion between the person under guardianship and the guardian.  In Hungary, a panel of experts would assess children with special needs, which was the stage at which parents would receive information about whether the child could be educated with their peers or would need to receive separate education.  The final choice was up to the parents.  There were also “Open Days” in educational institutions across Hungary where the parents were able to see what kind of options were available and what would be suitable.  All data concerning disability qualified as health data and was therefore considered sensitive.  Health data could only be disclosed to others on a voluntary basis and therefore Hungary did not keep a registry of persons with disabilities.

No kind of list existed which showed sexual orientation or state health, as all such lists had negative connotations and recalled Communist times.  Many people lived happily with their disabilities and gladly declared their status, fighting for equal opportunities.  Institutions were provided with special needs teachers, interpreters, and developmental psychologists to assist students with disabilities in their education.  In special vocational institutions, there were options to choose between multiple vocational qualifications free of charge.
 
There had been a system in Hungary in which large institutions housed several thousand people and despite the best intentions, it was not possible to discontinue that care overnight.  Local communities where supported housing facilities were being built needed to be able to include certain facilities.  Supported housing facilities separated housing from the use of social services and employment, with people with disabilities becoming active members of the community as a result of the separation.  The delegation had been making a special effort to provide the Committee with the most specific information possible, and hoped that as a result of those efforts, their positions would move toward one another.

Closing Remarks

ATTILA FÜLÖP, State Secretary, Ministry of Human Capacities of Hungary and Head of the Delegation, thanked the Committee for the constructive dialogue.  It was hoped that the delegation had managed to provide substantive answers letting the Committee evaluate the efforts of the country, taking into consideration Hungary’s history.  There had been unprecedented changes in social attitudes aimed at improving the quality of life of people with disabilities and the ratification of the Convention was an important benchmark. 

ÁKOS KOZMA, Commissioner for Fundamental Rights of Hungary, said Hungary had taken a giant step forward in promoting the implementation of the Convention.  The new legislation was exemplary in terms of the Ombudsman system, with the system very efficient when it came to the needs of people with disabilities.  A fundamental component was equal access to public services.  It was a personal mission and a guarantee to personally represent the enforcement of the rights of persons with disabilities.  There was a consensus in Hungary to continue efforts for the full protection and maintenance of the rights of persons with disabilities.

ROBERT GEORGE MARTIN, Committee Expert and Committee Co-Rapporteur for Hungary, thanked everyone who had been part of the review process.  He said that in 2019, he had come to Hungary as part of an inquiry, and had seen institutions where there were beds with one blanket, people on multiple medications, and bathrooms with no doors for privacy.  The Convention and the Committee’s findings must be translated into Hungarian, and the State party must stop using the medical model of disability and start using the human rights model.  It must start independent monitoring of institutions straight away and investigate when someone died in an institution.  No more children should be placed in institutions.  People with disabilities must be able to get married and have children if they wanted to, and there was a need for inclusive education for children with disabilities so they could learn alongside their peers and break disability stereotypes.  Hungary had many challenges ahead to make the situation right, but it could be done and it was time for change.

ROSEMARY KAYESS, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation for the constructive dialogue with the Committee and hoped it would assist them to further implement the Convention.

Link: https://www.ungeneva.org/en/news-media/meeting-summary/2022/03/experts-committee-rights-persons-disabilities-commend-hungarys