Hungary: Assist the victims of Topház, stop targeting human rights defenders

The human rights charity, MDAC is calling on the Hungarian government, as a matter of urgency, to publish its findings into abuses exposed at the Topház social care home.

Topház Speciális Otthon ("Topház Special Home"), Göd, Hungary. (c) MDAC. Topház Speciális Otthon ("Topház Special Home"), Göd, Hungary. (c) MDAC.

Two months have passed since MDAC published a report exposing ill-treatment and neglect of the Topház residents yet it is still unclear whether the Government has provided any necessary assistance to the victims.

The day after the publication the Ministry of Human Resources launched an urgent investigation into the situation and promised to report back to the public about the results of the investigation.  

Although the investigation has ended, the Government has failed to publish its report. A 30-point “action plan” that has been published on the Government’s website mostly concerns the improvement of conditions and staffing in the institution. Crucially, the plan says nothing about providing immediate medical and psychological assistance to the residents.

MDAC expresses its frustration that the Government has instead focused on targeting human rights defenders. Following a complaint by the Director of the Directorate-General for Social Affairs and Child Protection (SZGYF), MDAC has been contacted by the Hungarian data protection authority in relation to the publication of the photos taken in Topház and published in the report. The intent is clear – to criticise MDAC for bringing the abuse inside the institution into the public domain.

MDAC’s position is that data handling happened in line with the provisions of the Act on informational self-determination and freedom of information, for the purposes of protecting the rights of the residents. MDAC took every step possible to protect the privacy of residents, anonymising the data and publishing anonymised photos. However, we believe there was overwhelming public interest in protecting the human rights of the victims and to expose what was happening in this “home”.

Instead of targeting us, the Government should take serious steps to provide urgent assistance to the victims.

We are very grateful for the assistance of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee who is representing MDAC in the proceedings before the Hungarian Data Protection Authority.

MDAC calls on the Hungarian Government to inform the public about the specific steps that have been taken to implement the action plan and to provide the necessary urgent assistance.  In the meantime, MDAC and TASZ (the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union) are prepared to provide legal assistance to the victims.

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