Hungarian Supreme Court: Romani children deserve financial compensation for school segregation
The Hungarian Supreme Court has confirmed a lower court verdict according to which Romani children from the town of Gyöngyöspata are entitled to compensation for having been segregated in school. According to the judgment, the school in northern Hungary, the local authority and the local education department must pay a total of 100 million forints (EUR 282,105) to the families of 60 Romani children for separating them away from non-Romani pupils and delivering them a worse education.
Defenders of those institutions, according to the MTI press agency, had asked that they be able to offer the children courses instead of money. The court ruled that "the only possible compensation for this non-material harm is payment in money."
Reuters reported that the hard-right Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán had indicated in January that the state should not comply with the lower court's verdict regarding financial compensation and should provide the children with courses. As of 13 May the Government had not yet responded to the Supreme Court verdict.
Orbán used his first significant press conference of 2020 to complain about the lower court's verdict regarding the payment of compensaiton to the families of the Romani children from Gyöngyöspata. He alleged that the Romani children attending the school in question had created a dangerous atmosphere in the school that could not be coped with and that the parents of non-Romani children had subsequently preferred to re-enroll their children in a school in the next town over.
Human rights defenders have long been pointing out that Romani people in Hungary and elsewhere in Central Europe live in disproportionate poverty compared to majority populations, facing prejudices on the labor market and in the schools, as well as attacks by far-right supporters. In 2011, the town of Gyöngyöspata experienced skirmishes during which right-wing extremists assaulted local Romani residents, resulting in injuries to several people.
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