null Commissioner for Fundamental Rights of Hungary Grants OPCAT NPM Literary and Arts Awards

The literary and arts competition invited by the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights of Hungary entitled “My Life After Covid” in 2023 was a great success.


Ever since the establishment of the ombudsman institution in Hungary, ombudsmen have been regularly visiting state and local institutions where the residents are persons deprived of, or restricted in their liberty. The objective of the ombudsman’s inspections has been to learn to what extent the fundamental rights of persons who are detained in institutions, or are restricted in their liberty for shorter or longer periods of time due to their age, health condition, difficult situation, or as a result of a judicial order, are respected.
With regard to the knowledge and experience gained from the investigations into the treatment of persons in institutional care, since 1 January 2015, the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights, in addition to performing his general activities of protecting fundamental rights, has performed the responsibilities of the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) under Article 3 of OPCAT (the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment) promulgated by Act CXLIII of 2011. 

In 2020, the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights was faced with extraordinary challenges in this special competence of his. The social isolation of persons deprived of their liberty living in places of detention, including among others, in penal institutions, social care institutions and children’s homes, increased due to the coronavirus pandemic and the impacts of the epidemic hit those who live in these institutions harder. The vulnerability of people living in close vicinity to each other, often even more exposed to infections due to their condition, was increased by the fact that protection against the pandemic had to be organised in an institutional framework. 

The special legal order declared on 11 March 2020, the subsequent transitional measures and the extraordinary measures taken in the period of epidemiological preparedness concerning the places of detention profoundly affected the everyday lives of the persons deprived of their liberty. 

After lifting the restrictions, Ombudsman Dr. Ákos Kozma found it especially important to ensure that society gets directly informed, through those concerned, of the everyday lives of these closed communities, as well as the changes in their lives brought about by the pandemic, as in the past few years, everyone could experience the feeling of isolation and even if partially, could identify with the emotional and physical problems of these communities caused by isolation, as well as the difficulties of organising activities and the narrow options of community life offered at that time. 
It was to this end that the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights invited a literary and arts competition entitled “My Life After Covid” in 4 categories in 2023, to which entries were expected from the persons living in institutions in the scope of the activities of the NPM. Nearly 1,000 entries from more than 100 institutions were sent to the Office, which greatly exceeded expectations.  
Dr. Ákos Kozma greeted the nearly seventy winners of the competition in an award ceremony combined with the exhibition of the winning entries at the Office of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights on 6 October 2023.
The Commissioner for Fundamental Rights of Hungary and his office hereby thank all the applicants for the outstanding entries and participation, as well as the support provided to the competitors by the institutions, the heads and staff of the institutions with submitting the entries.