Accessibility links

Breaking News

Hungary To Survey Households On Roma, Schools, Prisons Amid Critics' Protests

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban wants to restrict compensation to the Romany population.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has announced plans to conduct a new "national consultation" survey of households next month to gauge their opinion on a variety of matters -- a move critics say will provide justification for the far-right leader to further diminish the independence of the courts and inflame prejudice against the Romany minority.

Chief of Staff Gergely Gulyas on February 13 briefed journalists on the survey, which he said was "about restoring moral order."

Respondents would be asked nine questions on issues such as legal rulings on prison overcrowding, school segregation, and whether the courts should stop awarding financial compensation to Roma for discrimination cases.

Orban, according to state-run media, said the survey should be conducted because "for certain activist groups, the rights of violent criminals have become more important than the rights of law-abiding citizens."

Last month, Orban criticized court awards to prisoners over substandard jail conditions while saying it was "deeply unfair" for Romany families to receive money "without working for it."

He suggested that Romany families instead be given training programs as compensation in school-segregation cases.

Rights and Roma advocacy groups say Orban's remarks about Roma are disparaging and further incite prejudice against them. His public comments, they say, highlight his lack of respect for the rule of law and judicial independence.

The first nationwide household survey was held in 2015 and included questions about "immigration and terrorism."

The United Nations refugee agency at the time expressed "shock" at its formulated questions and said it could promote xenophobia in the EU country.

Based on reporting by Hungary Today, USF, and AFP