The Hungarian Helsinki Committee
The Hungarian Helsinki Committee is a public benefit human rights organization that protects human dignity through legal and public activities. We provide help to refugees, detainees and victims of law enforcement violence.
1989: The foundation of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee
1994: We begin providing professional legal assistance
What does it mean that we are a human rights organization?
We often feel vulnerable in the face of the giant state. Many individuals are even more vulnerable, like those living with disabilities, Roma people, foreigners, to name a few. They are usually discriminated against or are simply unable to protect their interests because, for example, they cannot afford attorneys when aggrieved.
The Hungarian Helsinki Committee helps those whose human rights the state violated. Our clients are refugees, detainees and discriminated people.
With only a handful of members at the time of founding, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee has grown to an organization of more than twenty professionals by 2015. Our colleagues include lawyers, attorneys, medical doctors, economists, sociologists and journalists as well. In the early years we only focused on free legal assistance and representation while today our portfolio also includes research and professional training activities spanning through a wide range of fields.
Our main areas:
- Protection of the rule of law
- Protection of the rights of refugees
- Monitoring law enforcement activities
- Protection of the rights of detainees
Why do we have the city of Helsinki in our name?
The Hungarian Helsinki Committee is a Hungarian organisation. We almost exclusively deal with Hungarian issues, with the human rights violations of Hungarian authorities. So, why ‘Helsinki’? Helsinki is the trademark of human rights and a respected human rights movement. The governments of Europe and North America signed the Helsinki Final Act on August 1, 1975 in which they committed themselves to respect fundamental human rights.
As a result self-organising groups in the countries of the communist block, referring to the Final Act in their names, began demanding that their states respect the rights laid out in Helsinki. The Hungarian group was founded in 1989 to monitor the fairness of the first free elections, but already designated the issues of refugees and detention as its main operational foci in its Founding Declaration.