The City is for All has sent a report to the Venice Commission on the criminalization of homelessness by the Hungarian constitution. The report details the ways in which the pertaining paragraph of the 4th Amendment to the Fundamental Law breaches the rights of homeless people and those without proper housing. With this report, The City is for All wishes to contribute to the Venice Commission’s efforts to get a clear picture of the legal situation of Hungary, so that it can compile a succinct and unbiased report for the Council of Europe.
What is the Venice Commission?
The Venice Commission (officially the European Commission for Democracy through Law) is a permanent advisory body of the Council of Europe, providing assistance in issues concerning constitutionality and democratic institutions. The Council of Europe – which is not an institution of the European Union – is an intergovernmental organization created after the Second World War. It was brought to life in order to protect fundamental values such as democracy, constitutionality and human rights. Hungary became a member of the Council immediately following the regime change in 1989, having passed a strict examination of its newly created democratic institutions and the status of human rights. Member states, however, are not exempt from the obligation to protect their citizens’ basic rights and the democratic institutions even after they had been admitted. In fact, the Commission’s monitoring committee has recently concluded that these values have become seriously threatened in Hungary. As a result, it prepared a proposal for the Assembly of the Council of Europe, which called for a monitoring procedure against Hungary. This is a strong political signal to the government of Hungary: ever since the Council was created, no other member state has been subjected to such a procedure.
At the moment, the Venice Commission is analyzing the status of constitutionality and democratic institutions in Hungary, especially with regards to the 4th Amendment to the Fundamental Law. The report compiled on the basis of these findings will play an important role in the decision made by the Assembly in June, 2013. The City is for All – along with FEANTSA, a European umbrella organization for homeless service providers – has submitted information for the report concerning the criminalization of homelessness in Hungary.
The contents of the report by The City is for All
Our report states that the 4th Amendment to the Fundamental Law of Hungary
– breaches the right of homeless people to human dignity by penalizing their social status;
– negatively discriminates against homeless people concerning their right to using public spaces;
– undermines jurisprudence by giving virtually unlimited freedom to the legislature in limiting the use of public spaces, while neither the definition of „permanent habitation in public spaces,” nor the definition of „the obligation of the government to provide appropriate services” contain suitable guidance;
– breaches the European Convention of Human Rights regarding the prohibition of discrimination concerning the private sphere of citizens.
The full English version of the report can be downloaded here.