Horror story in Hungary. Disabled People suffer grave human rights violations in an institution. Photo of a child in a room of the institution. His face is masked.

In 2017, our associated member Validity Foundation  visited the Topház institution in the town of Göd, only 30 kilometres away from Budapest, Hungary, and released a report based on their visit. This report is nothing short of a horror story: this 220-bedded institution, housing disabled adults and children, was hiding terrifying abuse and neglect behind its doors. The staff from Validity Foundation reported residents were victims of multiple forms of inhumane and degrading treatment such as deprivation of basic needs, forced medication, and the use of cages and cloths for restraint, and observed several residents suffering from injuries.

Following the report, the Hungarian government dismissed the institution’s director, and outsourced the management to the Charitable Service of the Order of Malta. But Validity Foundation feared that this was not enough to repair the situation. In absence of a criminal investigation, Validity Foundation decided to take the authorities to court.

In February 2024, the Court delivered its first ruling. This decision found that there was evidence of several human rights violations, including the right to personal freedom, early intervention education, health, rehabilitation and habilitation, and human dignity, as a result of the failure of authorities to act, including those “passive observers” who were complicit.

Validity Foundation and ENIL have taken several joint actions through the past few years to denounce the situation of Hungarian institutions, particularly regarding European Union funding which is financing these segregated settings – which was the case for the Topház institution. Together, we submitted a request to an investigation by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, who found grave and systematic human rights violations; provided information on the follow-up of the inquiry; and raised awareness in multiple occasions about the ineffectiveness of Hungary’s deinstitutionalisation strategy.

Validity Foundation will continue taking action to ensure that the Court’s ruling is applied, and that victims receive reparations and redress. You can read more about this in Validity’s article on the topic.

For more information, please contact rita.crespo-fernandez@enil.eu