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16th January, 2020

Compensation for dire prison conditions suspended

Payment of court-ordered compensation to convicts for poor prison conditions has been suspended, because NGOs are making a business of this issue, Cabinet Office state secretary Bence Tuzson announced yesterday on HirTV.

The Helsinki Committee strongly denied this claim, saying that NGOs represent prisoners free of charge.

Tuzson said the cabinet will discuss whether convicted people are eligible for such compensation at the Council of Europe and the European Parliament.

The European Court of Human Rights has often awarded compensation to convicted criminals for the dire conditions in Hungarian prisons.

Tuzson said about 12,000 such proceedings involve compensation.

He asserted that NGOs that represent prisoners have turned compensation lawsuits into a business.

The government has made similar accusations against NGOs that represent asylum-seekers.

“As soon as these people are imprisoned, somebody appears, some kind of an organisation with a lawyer on his side shows that a business can be made of this,” he said, adding, “it is common knowledge that lawsuits were won on a conveyor belt”.

The Helsinki Committee rejected this as “a blatant lie,” pointing out that the cabinet banned NGOs from prisons in 2017.

Tuzson said an end must be put to the practice whereby the Hungarian state pays money to criminals, while the victims do not receive the proper compensation from the criminals.

The compensation payments are distributed to the victims of the crimes or their families, 444 writes. A decision by the cabinet not to pay compensation would have the effect of cutting off compensation for victims, the website adds.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban said last week that he had told the Justice Minister not to pay one forint of such compensation, as “we have been harshly penalised. I said let us take up this dispute, because this is an impossible state of affairs.”

The European Court of Human Rights declared in 2015 that there was a systemic problem in the Hungarian prison sector, as conditions were so bad that they constituted “inhumane or degrading treatment,” HVG reports. (hirtv.hu; hvg.hu; atv.hu; nepszava.hu; 24.hu; 444.hu; mandiner.hu)
16th January, 2020

NGO says Tuzson is lying

The Helsinki Committee declared on Wednesday that to the best of its knowledge not a single NGO has received money for representing prisoners in 12,000 cases, and the Hungarian Helsinki Committee definitely did not receive any money.

“We help our clients for free,” the NGO said, adding that it represented only two such cases last year.

“It is a blatant lie that NGOs go to prison with lawyers,” the statement said, as the cabinet banned NGOs from prisons in 2017.

Convicts can claim compensation because they are often kept imprisoned for years in conditions “unfit for dogs,” the NGO added.

“Just because it is bad for them inside, it does not make it any better for us outside.”

The statement points out that the system of compensation now deemed unacceptable was created by the Fidesz government.

The Helsinki Committee added that where binding verdicts based on the law may be ignored on orders of a politician, it is not the rule of law that prevails, but the arbitrary rule of a politician. (atv.hu; merce.hu; 444.hu; hvg.hu)
16th January, 2020

Only electric buses may be procured from 2022 – Palkovics

The government will insist that towns of 25,000 residents or more buy only electric buses from 2022, as part of the cabinet’s climate protection efforts, Innovation and Technology Minister Laszlo Palkovics confirmed on Inforadio yesterday.

Palkovics added that Prime Minister Viktor Orban will outline other prominent projects of the climate protection strategy in February.

One pre-condition for the switch to electric buses is the existence of a network of filling stations and another is a battery of sufficient capacity to ensures the daylong operation of a bus, he said.

Palkovics stressed that Hungarian bus production continues to be a priority.

On another issue, he said a government authority will be created by the middle of the year to work with citizens on finding a solution to the elimination of illegal waste dumps.

The cabinet counts on local councils in this work, as their co-operation is needed to make these dumps disappear, he continued, but the main goal is to ensure that new ones do not come into being.

“Deterrence is necessary,” Palkovics said, “we shall find the person who took the rubbish there and we shall punish him or try to make him understand that plastic bottles are not thrown out of cars.”

He also spoke of the introduction of a Ft 25 fee for plastic bottles, based on the German example. (infostart.hu; portfolio.hu)
16th January, 2020

New education undersecretary named

Laszlo Kisfaludy has replaced Zoltan Maruzsa in the post of undersecretary for education at the Human Resources Ministry, effective January 15.

Maruzsa was in the position for less than five months, since September 1, 2019.

Kisfaludy has taught history at the Budapest University Catholic High School since 1999 and has public administrative experience, having worked at the Education Ministry, the Education Office, and the former Ministry of Public Administration and Justice.

Kisfaludy considers the development of the professional evaluation and support system and the renewal of refresher courses for teachers as prominent tasks.

No reason for Maruzsa’s departure was provided. (infostart.hu; hirado.hu; hirtv.hu; magyarnemzet.hu; mandiner.hu)

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