Hungary: Is there no hope in the “Ray of Hope”?

7 September 2012, Budapest – Today the Mental Disability Advocacy Center (MDAC) sent a letter to the Hungarian Minister of Human Resources about allegations of abuse and neglect in the “Ray of Hope Rehabilitation Institution”, which houses 116 people with intellectual and other disabilities in a gated facility on the outskirts of Budapest.

On 24 August, Hungarian media reported that 21 neighbours of the institution had written to the Ministry stating that they had witnessed staff beating residents, locking naked residents on the balcony in winter, and leaving them outside exposed to the sun for hours in the summer. The media has since reported a former staff member who said that staff has also been using chemical restraints and sedation, and pointed out a severe lack of basic hygiene and adequate therapeutic services.


“I am grateful to the neighbours for raising the alarm. These allegations of abuse are particularly poignant for me, since I’ve met and spoken to many of the residents on several occasions,” said Oliver Lewis, MDAC Executive Director. “Disability apartheid is being actively pursued in Hungary: families are torn apart, state institutions thrive, and violence take place with impunity. MDAC calls upon the Minister to resolve the underlying problem, which is that warehousing human beings is unacceptable and clearly violates Hungary’s commitments under international human rights law.”


In its letter, MDAC requested the Minister to:

1.    Provide public information about steps taken since receiving the allegations, to ensure the physical safety and mental wellbeing of the residents.

2.    Ensure a prompt, independent and effective investigation of the allegations. If, as alleged, criminal offences have been committed, ensure that the police investigate the allegations, and provide reasonable accommodation to victims with disabilities during the investigation and any subsequent phases of the criminal process.

3.    Provide information about steps taken since 1 May 2008 which is the date on which the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities entered into force in Hungary. In particular, how the provisions setting out the right to be free from torture and ill-treatment, the right to be free from exploitation, violence and abuse, and the right to physical and mental integrity of the person have been implemented.  

4.    Grant access to human rights and disability NGOs to monitor the rights of people in social care institutions. There is currently no independent monitoring in these institutions, which means that abuses can take place again and again behind closed doors.


MDAC needs your help to fight abuses in Hungary and elsewhere. Your donation is crucial. With your help, MDAC will provide the best impact for people with disabilities, where your money is needed the most and where your investment will work the hardest. The change which you can help create is long-lasting and will ultimately prevent many more people being subject to abuses in the future. Please help us today by clicking here.

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