null Message of the Minority Ombudsman on the occasion of the International Day of Remembrance of the Roma Holocaust

According to Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which enshrines the fundamental and timeless common values of humanity, "all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights ".

Human life and human dignity know no national boundaries, but their promotion and protection is the primary duty of States. State institutions and their representatives have a special responsibility to act in all their activities with due regard for international and constitutional guarantees of equal treatment and to act in the public service with respect for the human dignity of all members of society, irrespective of origin, national or ethnic affiliation or any other membership of a minority group. The International Day of Remembrance of the Roma Holocaust reminds us that acting against extremist views is also our common responsibility, so that the horrors of the Second World War are never repeated under any circumstances.

As Minority Ombudsman, like my predecessors in office, I have consistently and firmly taken the position that in the context of the genocide perpetrated by the National Socialist regime we must not only commemorate the Jewish, Roma, disabled and LGBT victims who died in Nazi death camps, but also raise awareness of the historical processes, human and social crimes that led to the Holocaust.

In 2017, in my general comment on the situation of Roma Holocaust education in Hungary and its role in shaping social attitudes, I drew attention to the fact that the atrocities of World War II had deep-rooted social and historical antecedents. The events that took place at that time illustrate how a society can shift from seemingly isolated human rights violations against individuals to the mass and systematic extermination of human life. Today's growing intolerance, anti-Gypsyism and xenophobia worldwide, the unjustified incitement of fear against people or communities perceived as being contrary to the values of the majority society, can trigger equally dangerous processes in European societies.

In 2020, in two general comments, I called for urgent, professional and decisive action against hate speech and hate crime. I am convinced that one of the greatest challenges of our time is to achieve an informed, non-judgemental and considered response by members of society to any violation of human rights, and in particular of the rights of members of nationality communities. However, this requires exemplary commitment and professional, non-judgmental and consistent action by legislators and law enforcers in situations that act against social peace and cooperation. 

In the field of the protection of human life and dignity, the responsibility of public figures is crucial, since their statements, which are subject to close scrutiny, can reinforce existing social processes in any direction, and their personal examples and statements can contribute to raising the standard of public discourse, but also to exacerbating negative trends. Unfortunately, my position, as expressed in the documents mentioned in recent years, is still valid today: hate speech, which is on the increase at an everyday level and is made even more so by the anonymity offered by Internet speech, poses an extreme threat to social peace, even if it does not rise to the level of a criminal offence. I am convinced that it is in our common social interest and our common responsibility to act against this.

Budapest, 2 August, 2022.

                                                                                                                   Prof. Elisabeth Sándor-Szalay
                                                                                                                         Minority Ombudsman