Human Rights First Calls for Investigation into Suspected Election Law Violations in Erpatak, Hungary

In the course of an investigation in Hungary of the rise of far-right political parties and their effect on human rights, Human Rights First has found credible evidence of election and other law violations in the town of Erpatak.

A municipal van parked Friday in front of Erpatak’s town hall was decorated with multiple campaign posters and stickers for the far-right Jobbik Party and its local candidate for the parliamentary elections held Sunday.

We urge the Hungarian Commissioner for Fundamental Rights, the National Election Commission, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) – currently in Hungary to monitor the elections – to investigate possible violations of Hungarian law, including the election procedure and local government laws, as well as Hungary’s OSCE commitments for democratic elections.

It is only by vigorously enforcing the rule of law and democratic norms that the fundamental rights of Hungarian citizens can be protected.

Human Rights First visited Erpatak because of reported human rights violations and to investigate the controversial implementation of a public employment program involving local Roma residents. In 2013 the Hungarian commissioner for Fundamental Rights released the results of his investigation into the Erpatak Mayor’s redesign of a state-funded social program to distribute heating wood to those in need. The commissioner found that the basis on which recipients were selected was arbitrary; that the program as implemented in Erpatak violated due process and the principle of equal treatment; and that it harmed “the right to human dignity” of potential recipients. The mayor responded to the commissioner’s conclusions by stating that “only those who do something for themselves, their families and their environment deserve social allowances.”

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Published on April 7, 2014

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