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EQUAL TREATMENT AUTHORITY
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Equal Treatment Authority is an independent body, which was set up by the Hungarian government to receive and deal with individual and public complaints about unequal treatment. The Authority was established by Act CXXV of 2003 on Equal Treatment and the Promotion of Equal Opportunities and by the Law No 362/2004 (XII.26.) The Authority works under the instruction of the Government, under the supervision of a member of the government but cannot be directed in the exercise of its duties as defined by the above-mentioned Act.
The Authority reviews the complaints it receives to see if the law on equal treatment has been violated. It deals with unequal treatment involving gender; racial origin; colour; nationality; national or ethnic origin; mother tongue; disability; state of health; religious or ideological conviction; political or other opinion; family status; maternity or paternity; sexual orientation; sexual identity; age; social origin; financial status; part-time, temporary and other types of employment contract; the membership of an organisation representing employees’ interests and any other status, attribute or characteristic (described as “characteristics”).
It is forbidden to treat people differently on these grounds of discrimination. The Authority deals with complaints about direct as well as indirect discrimination.
The Authority shall
a) based on an application or in cases defined below, conduct ex officio investigations to establish whether the principle of equal treatment has been violated, and make a decision on the basis of the investigation;
b) pursuant to the right of claim enforcement in the public interest, initiate a lawsuit with a view to protecting the rights of persons and groups whose rights have been violated;
c) review and comment on drafts of legal acts concerning equal treatment;
d) make proposals concerning governmental decisions and legislation pertaining to equal treatment;
e) regularly inform the public and the Government about the situation concerning the enforcement of equal treatment;
f) in the course of performing its duties, co-operate with non-governmental and representative organisations and the relevant state bodies;
g) continually provide information to those concerned and offer assistance in combating the violation of equal treatment;
h) assist in the preparation of governmental reports to international organisations, especially to the Council of Europe concerning the principle of equal treatment;
i) assist in the preparation of the reports for the Commission of the European Union concerning the harmonisation of its directives on equal treatment;
j) prepare an annual report to the Government on the activity of the Authority and its experiences obtained in the course of the application of this Act.
In the course of conducting ex officio investigations according to the above mentioned Paragraph a), the Authority shall proceed in accordance with the provisions of Act IV of 1957 on the general procedures of state administration.
The Authority shall perform its duties set out in Paragraph c)-j) in co-operation with an advisory body whose members have extensive experience in the protection of human rights and in enforcing the principle of equal treatment, and have been invited by the Prime Minister to join the aforementioned body.
A violation of the principle of equal treatment within the scope of this Act shall be investigated by the Authority too. The Authority shall also proceed ex officio in cases where the principle of equal treatment is violated by the Hungarian State, local and minority governments and all other public authorities, the armed forces and the police.
If the Authority has established that the regulations on equal treatment have been violated, they may
a) order that the situation constituting a violation of the law be eliminated;
b) prohibit the further continuation of the conduct constituting a violation of the law;
c) publish its decision establishing a violation of the law;
d) impose a fine.
The decision of the Authority cannot be appealed against in the framework of the public administrative procedure, and cannot be altered or annulled by supervisory powers. The Court can review a decision of the Authority.
The Authority cannot investigate decisions and measures taken by Parliament, the President, the Constitutional Court, the State Audit Office, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Civil Rights, the Parliamentary Commissioner for National and Ethnic Minority Rights, the Parliamentary Commissioner on Data Protection, the Courts and the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
The Authority may participate as an advocate in the judicial review of a public administrative decision made by another public administrative body concerning the principle of equal treatment.
The Authority is headed by a President appointed by the Hungarian Government, and composed of a Vice-President, a Legal Department and a Finance Department.
A Consultative Body which was set up in July 2005 assists the Authority in its work. The Consultative Body is composed of six experts appointed by the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Youth, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities.