Hungarian top court confirms Roma unlawfully segregated, awards damages

By Marton Dunai BUDAPEST (Reuters) - A Hungarian school unlawfully segregated minority Roma students for years, the country's top court said in a final ruling on Tuesday, granting 100 million forints ($310,000) in compensation to the children's families.

Reuters May 13, 2020 00:16:25 IST
Hungarian top court confirms Roma unlawfully segregated, awards damages

Hungarian top court confirms Roma unlawfully segregated awards damages

By Marton Dunai

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - A Hungarian school unlawfully segregated minority Roma students for years, the country's top court said in a final ruling on Tuesday, granting 100 million forints ($310,000) in compensation to the children's families.

Nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who is at odds with the European Union for his perceived erosion of the rule of law, hinted in January that the state should disobey any court order to pay restitution to the Roma and provide training instead.

The Kuria (Supreme Court) case involved an elementary school in Gyongyospata, a town that has been a flashpoint of ethnic tensions in the past.

"The supreme legal forum upheld... (an earlier) ruling which mandated a 100 million forint damages payment," the Kuria said in a statement. "Students from the Roma ethnic minority were unlawfully segregated and given substandard education."

The ruling was a "bad decision which upends social peace as it unilaterally and overhwelmingly punishes a whole town for the real or imagined grievances of a minority", Laszlo Horvath, Orban's special envoy on resolving Roma issues, told national news agency MTI in a video message.

Horvath, a member of the ruling Fidesz party and the area's representative in Parliament, said he would propose legal changes to prevent such court decisions.

Analysts say Orban has been stepping up anti-Roma rhetoric and has had little to lose politically from ignoring the plight of a minority that has for centuries faced prejudice and discrimination in Hungary and elsewhere in eastern Europe.

Roma in Hungary live in disproportionate poverty, suffer from prejudice in schools and workplaces and have been subject to intimidation and occasionally deadly violence by the far right, rights activists say.

Orban used his first major press conference this year to decry the damages award to 60 Gyongyospata Roma and their families by a lower court.

He said the Roma had created an unruly and threatening environment in the school and majority Hungarian parents had begun taking their kids to a school in a neighbouring town.

"They feel like they are in a hostile environment in their own homeland...No way," Orban told reporters, igniting protests where more than 2,000 Hungarians, including Roma families, warned Orban "no one is above the law" and "the future cannot be built on hatred".

Last month, Roma leaders said the coronavirus pandemic posed a grave threat to the already precarious status of their community, with many Roma feeling abandoned by Orban's government.

Orban launched a major financial stimulus plan to soften the economic blow from the coronavirus, focusing on bolstering investment and employment but bypassing the very poor - often Roma who typically work in casual day jobs without security and have little access to standard medical care.

(Reporting by Marton Dunai; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Alex Richardson)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.