Office of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights

Overview:

The Commissioner for Fundamental Rights is an ombudsman-type institution responsible for the protection of fundamental rights in Hungary, covering the whole spectrum of fundamental rights. It can proceed upon complaint or ex officio in the case of human rights infringements, and generally, it has soft powers to remedy violations. The recommendations of ombudsmen have an impact not only on the individual case: they often interpret human rights clauses of the Constitution in a complex way that may be useful in other cases and for other institutions (such as courts) as well. The ombudsman performs the tasks of a National Human Rights Institution.

Brief history

The Hungarian Ombudsman institution was set up in 1995, as a parliamentary institution, comprising three (from 2007 on four) independent ombudspersons responsible for the protection of specific fundamental rights. 
The Parliamentary Commissioner for Civil Rights, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Rights of National and Ethnic Minorities, the Data Protection Commissioner and later the Ombudsman for Future Generations (responsible for environmental issues) worked independently in a common office until 2012. The ombudsman’s mandates – with the exception of the Data Protection Commissioner and the Commissioner for Future Generations were based on the Constitution, their proceedings were generally covered by the old Ombudsman Act (Act LIX. of 1993. on the Parliamentary Commissioner for Civil Rights).
With the adoption of the new Basic Law the Hungarian Ombudsman institution was merged. In January 2012, a unified ombudsman institution was set up. While the competences and the main proceedings of the institution remained unchanged, the new Ombudsman Act (Act CXI of 2011 on the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights) provided for an explicit emphasis on the rights on vulnerable groups. The Commissoner for Fundamental Rights now is responsible for the protection of all fundamental rights and all vulnerable groups. He has two deputies: the Deputy Commissioner for Fundamental Rights responsible for the protection of the rights of national minorities and the Deputy Commissioner for Fundamental Rights responsible for the protection of the interests of future generations. 
The ombudsman may proceed upon complaints as well as ex officio, and may propose remedies to the relevant authority. The ombudsman does not have the power to bring legally binging decisions, nor can he initiate the proceedings of courts in individual cases.
The Commissioner for Fundamental Rights gives an opinion on the draft rules of law affecting their tasks and competences.
As of 2012, as mandate of growing importance, the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights may initiate the review of rules of law at the Constitutional Court and the Curia as to their conformity with the Fundamental Law.
The Commissioner for Fundamental Rights performs the tasks related to the national preventive mechanism pursuant to Article 3 of the Optional Protocol of the Convention against Torture and other Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment as of 1. January 2015. (OPCAT)
The Act on Complaints and Public Interest Disclosure as of 1 January 2014, provides a new task for the Office of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights, concerning public interest disclosures.
The Office of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights received the United Nations’ National Human Rights Institution Status B in May 2011, which has been upgraded to Status A in 2014.

Mandate Type

Combined tribunal-type and promotion-type

Litigation power:

  • Formally deciding on complaints (e.g. decision or recommendation addressed to the parties) Not legally binding
  • initiating the review of legislation at the Constitutional Court/the Curia; amicus curiae

Activities

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Activities aimed at supporting vulnerable groups ( e.g. through trainings )
Activities aimed at supporting duty bearers such as employers and service providers (e.g. through trainings, guidance material, practical support, etc.)
Communication activities (e.g. awareness raising campaigns)
Recommendations on discrimination issues
Publications and reports
Research projects (including surveys)

Our institution has a mandate to deal with:

  • UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
  • Hate speech
  • Cases related to all human rights stipulated in the Basic Law

Other statistics:

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Number of inquiries handled per year (all contact even if not resulting in a formal complaint)7049697754718240
Number of cases handled per year (case files opened and processed according to your procedures)7861763454545440
Number of media appearances per year (major newspapers/magazines/websites/blogs, TV + radio channels) - does not include social media49195602

Management

  • Single headed equality body (led by director or ombudsman/commissioner)
  • The Commissioner has two deputies: the Deputy Commissioner for Fundamental Rights responsible for the protection of the rights of national minorities and the Deputy Commissioner for Fundamental Rights responsible for the protection of the interests of future generations.

Management details

The Commissioner has two deputies: the Deputy Commissioner for Fundamental Rights responsible for the protection of the rights of national minorities and the Deputy Commissioner for Fundamental Rights responsible for the protection of the interests of future generations. The Parliament elects one ombudsperson, who is assigned to choose their own deputies. There is one Deputy-Commissioner who is responsible for the protection of the interests of future generations and there is one other Deputy-Commissioner who is responsible

Additional details

The Commissioner for Fundamental Rights is an ombudsman-type institution responsible for the protection of fundamental rights in Hungary, covering the whole spectrum of fundamental rights, including the principle of equal treatment and non-discrimination. The Office of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights received the United Nations’ National Human Rights Institution Status B in May 2011, which has been upgraded to Status A in 2014. The Commissioner for Fundamental Rights performs the tasks related to the national preventive mechanism pursuant to Article 3 of the Optional Protocol of the Convention against Torture and other Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment as of 1. January 2015. (OPCAT)

Procedure for nomination and appointment of management and board

The Parliament elects the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights (by the proposal of the President of the Republic) and his/her Deputies for 6 years term. Any Hungarian citizen can be elected as Commissioner for Fundamental Rights or the Deputy-Commissioner, if they hold a law degree, have the right to stand as a candidate in elections of Members of Parliament and also have outstanding theoretical knowledge or at least ten years of professional experience; furthermore have reached the age of thirty-five years and has considerable experience in conducting or supervising proceedings concerning fundamental rights.
The Commissioner for Fundamental Rights may be re-elected once.

Number of staff dealing with equality issues

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019

Grounds and fields of discrimination covered by the equality body

Grounds / Fields Employment Education Housing Social Protection & Healthcare Goods and Services Other
Gender
Gender Identity
Race and Ethnic Origin
Age
Disability
Sexual Orientation
Religion & Belief
Other grounds:

The Basic Law provides for an open-ended list of grounds

Mandate covers:

  • Public sector

Operating budget in euros

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
388300037940004051333

We are accountable to

  • National Parliament
  • National audit institution (i.e. for financial reporting)