Professional consultation between the Deputy People's Advocate in Romania and the Minority Ombudsman of Hungary
One of the cornerstones of the work of the Minority Ombudsman is the exchange of experiences and the exploration and implementation of opportunities for joint work with partner organisations. In this spirit, Zsolt Molnár, Deputy People's Advocate (Avocatul Poporului) for Human Rights, Equal Opportunities, Religious Affairs and National Minorities and the Minority Ombudsman met in the online space on the afternoon of 10 March. Tamás Török, Head of the Minority Ombudsman's Secretariat, also took part in the discussion.
The main topic of the open and honest discussion was the serious professional challenge posed by the pandemic. The exceptional situation in Hungary is a challenge for the Minority Ombudsman due to the limited functioning of nationality self-governments and its impact on marginalised Roma communities, while for Zsolt Molnár, as Deputy Ombudsman for Health, it is a serious burden, mainly due to the increased scrutiny of state measures and restrictions.
There are significant differences between the two deputies, as Zsolt Molnár also oversees a number of human rights areas in addition to minority rights, but their responsibilities are similar. During the discussion, they therefore devoted special time to issues related to the number of cases, investigative tools, staff, contacts with the professional community, administrative obligations and possibilities for case closure, while reviewing the situation in the border areas (public and private, labour law, church cases) in relation to specific cases. A particular advantage is that the People's Advocate also has 14 regional offices, where trained and conscientious professionals are available to record complaints from citizens seeking justice. The system not only facilitates the recording of complaints, but also their resolution. The relationship with the Anti-Discrimination Council and the situation of the Directorate General for Equal Treatment were also reviewed, as well as the relationship between national Parliaments and the NGOs.
In the context of nationality rights, they discussed studies on the enforcement of individual and community language rights and their common points. There are also many common elements in the procedures, and a further technical meeting will be held in the near future to share experiences and ways forward.
Both parties have pledged to continue the dialogue, which is a major development not only from a professional point of view but also in terms of facilitating the enforcement of the rights of protected communities.