Budapest (MTI) – Some 56 percent of the reports of public interest submitted to the ombudsman last year were found to be justified, a summary of the 2016 activities of the ombudsman for fundamental rights László Székely published on parliament’s website shows.
The ombudsman has been in charge of handling reports of public interest since 2014 and the submitters had the option to ask anonymity. Last year 314 reports were submitted through an electronic system and around half of these could be regarded as issues of public interest. Nearly 90 percent of the submitters requested that their data should only be accessible to the ombudsman’s office.
Many reports involved local council procedures and regulations, the use of local taxes, companies’ tax evasion practices, noise from music festivals, the operation of catering facilities, the lack of public procurements, fees charged for administrative services by state bodies, construction activities in the city park, the actions by public area inspectors, giant billboards showing images inappropriate for children, the expansion of the operating area of the “beggar mafia” and various corruption practices.
Since 2015, a new task by the ombudsman has been to pay unannounced on-site visits to ensure that the United Nations Convention against Torture is not violated. During ten such on-site visits, the report said that “there was reason for concern related to physical violence and sexual violence between children, child prostitution and drug use, as well as legal and professional shortcomings in separating persons during procedures.” The report noted, however, the importance of dialogue with the authorities and the fact that the on-site checks had preventative effects. The ombudsman made unannounced visits to persons who were in home arrest, to the Hungarian Prison Service, a children’s home in Budapest, the Tököl prison for minors, as well as several prisons, correctional institutes and police detention facilities around Hungary.