Disability Watchdog: New Hungarian Constitution, a violation of the right to vote of people with mental or intellectual disabilities

Disability watch dog -New Hungarian Constitution denies the right to vote to people with mental or intellectual disabilities.

Case: Recently adopted new Constitution in Hungary

The Hungarian Parliament recently approved the country’s new Constitution, which should enter into force on January 1, 2012. This document should reinforce the inalienable human rights of all Hungarians as set out in international law. However, many European human rights organizations are shocked that the new Hungarian Constitution not only fails to do so, but actively strips away the voting rights of people with mental health problems.

The new Hungarian Constitution superficially acknowledges equal rights for all Hungarians. For example, Article XV (2) states “equal rights are guaranteed to everyone, without distinction of any kind”, including disability. Article XXIII (1) further ensures voting rights to all adult citizens. This assurance is, however, undercut by a discriminatory restriction. ”Those deprived of their right to vote by a court by reason of limited mental capacity shall not have the right to vote.” (Article XXIII (6).

Organizations insist that such a restriction is entirely unjustifiable, and is based on irrational and shameful prejudices. Article XXIII (6) has no place in the Constitution of a democratic state that respects human rights. In particular, it is a violation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD), which was ratified by Hungary in 2007. Under Article 29 of the CRPD, States Parties must ensure that people with mental health problems ”can effectively and fully participate in political and public life on an equal basis with others including the right and opportunity to vote and be elected.”

Therefore article 29 is unacceptable and totally inappropriate for constitution of an EU country.

It is clear to human rights advocates at European level that the new Hungarian Constitution will erode the basic and civil rights of some of the most vulnerable people in Hungary. Mental Health Europe and other human and disability right organizations therefore call on the Hungarian Parliament to overturn the Constitution’s Article XXIII (6), which is a breach of basic human and civil rights.

Measure to be taken

We therefore urge the European institutions to take active measures to force the Hungarian government to comply with the UN CRPD, as they had vouched when ratifying the Convention.


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