An amendment to the Hungarian constitution, which prohibits people from living in public spaces, took effect Monday.
The amendment provides police with the authority to issue warnings those in violation of the policy. If one receives four warnings within a 90-day period it can result in jail or six months community service.
In 2013 the Hungarian National Assembly amended Article XXII of the constitution to provide that “in order to protect public order, public safety, public health and cultural artifacts, an Act or a local government decree may, with respect to a specific part of public space, provide that using a public space as a habitual dwelling shall be illegal.” The amendment that took effect Monday seeks to go further by providing a general ban on homelessness in public spaces.
Zoltán Kovács, Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Relations, asserts that since the amendment also guarantees the government to provide decent accommodation for those without, the amendment will “ensure decent living conditions and access to public services for it citizens” while simultaneously protecting “public spaces and the human dignity of all Hungarians.”
UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing Leilani Farha stated that the amendment “would further stigmatize homeless people as criminals and raises concerns of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment against homeless people and person without housing.” Farha called the amendment “discriminatory” and said it will impede homeless people’s ability to better their situation. She also asserted that Hungary is violating its obligations under international human rights law, Article 11.1 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Hungary provides approximately 19,000 institutions for the homeless. According to Farha, current housing accommodations offered is insufficient to accommodate short-term and long-term housing needs.