Message from the Minority Ombudsman on the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic

Dear Partners, Dear Friends!

As the coronarvirus epidemic has developed into a pandemic, we are each day facing new types of challenges that carry the same message: our most important present duty is maintaining the physical and mental health of ourselves and of those around us: family members, friends, co-workers and our communities. In these days, taking individual and joint responsibility are equally important. Some encouraging signs suggest that by uniting and by following disciplined professional practices, we can slow the spread of the virus. In the current situation, I have a special responsibility and duty to act as Deputy Ombudsman to protect the people and the communities I am responsible for. For this reason, please be informed on the following.

On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the disease COVID-19 a pandemic and called on all Member States of the United Nations to take immediate action. In view of this and the high exposure of our country, the Government of Hungary on the same day from 3 pm on by virtue of the Government Decree No. 40/2020. (III. 11.) Korm., the whole of Hungary declared an emergency. In the light of the above, the Secretary-General of the Office of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights issued special calls (AJB-2000/3/2020, AJB-2000/5/2020) containing special rules for the work from 11 March until withdrawal.

As Deputy Ombudsman, I agree with the extraordinary and immediate provisions which are justified by the need to deal effectively with the emergency and the preventive and precautionary measures. With this in mind, from March 16 until withdrawal, I ordered my secretarial staff to work from home and cancelled all travel, professional meetings, and personal meetings.

In the coming weeks, we will continue to work with my colleagues at home to deal with the ongoing and incoming issues of the national minority communities and their members. We will continue to receive submissions and professional papers at nemzetiseg.info@ajbh.hu and you can find up-to-date information at www.nemzetisegijogok.hu.

I wish all of us wisdom, patience, and broad caution in dealing with the challenges of the next period!

Take care of each other, take care of ourselves!

Elisabeth Sándor-Szalay