Validity Foundation - Mental Disability Advocacy Centre

Hungary: Disability rights organisations address lack of respect for the rights of persons with disabilities through the UN’s Universal Periodic Review

By Erzsébet Oláh 26th March 2021

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Yesterday, Validity Foundation together with the Hungarian Autistic Society, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, the Living Independently in the Community Advocacy Group, and the Step by Step! Association submitted a shadow report to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), an important human rights process conducted by the United Nations’ Human Rights Council. Validity also contributed to preparing a UPR shadow report prepared by the Hungarian Child Rights NGO Coalition.

In our submission, we raised our concerns about:

  • forced sterilisation of women with disabilities,
  • involuntary contraception of women with disabilities in institutions,
  • lack of support for inclusion of children with disabilities in mainstream education,
  • restrictions of the right to vote on the basis of disability,
  • the guardianship system and lack of supported decision-making legislation in compliance with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
  • faulty deinstitutionalisation process resulting in trans-institutionalisation, meaning moving persons with disabilities from large-scale institutions to smaller housing arrangements, rather than guaranteeing their inclusion in the community, and
  • a lack of community-based services

The Human Rights Council uses the UPR process to review the fulfilment by UN Member States of their human rights obligations and commitments. Reviews are based on three different sources of information, namely (1) national State reports, (2) a compilation of already existing UN information on the State under review, and (3) information coming from civil society actors, national human rights institutions and regional organisations.

In its previous Reports from 2011 and from 2016, the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review concerning Hungary recommended that the State (a) “Continue to enhance access to sexual and reproductive health services for women, in particular women with disabilities…”; (b) “Consolidate programmes to ensure a system of inclusive education for children with disabilities throughout the country”; (c) “Review all relevant legislations, including the State’s new Fundamental Law to ensure that all persons with disabilities have a right to vote, and that they can participate in political and public life on an equal basis with others”; and (d) Adopt measures in order for full respect for the free and informed consent of persons with disabilities.

Under the previous review process, the Hungarian delegation claimed that “Hungary [has] a new principle on persons with disabilities providing protection for their independent living. The delegation recalled the amendment of the Civil Code, which reinforced the rights of persons with disabilities. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities would be implemented with the best possible effort.” However, in practical terms, there have been few achievements in advancing the rights of persons with disabilities in the country, as was found recently by the CRPD Committee, which found evidence of grave and systematic violations of the rights of persons with disabilities in its report following an inquiry conducted under the Optional Protocol to the CRPD.

Hungary will be reviewed during the 39th session of the UPR Working Group in October-November 2021.