Norbert Ferencz is NOT the sinner! Statement from our Hungarian colleagues

The Új Szemlélet group has already brought remarkable professional reformation. Besides the mostly individual-based social work (which is common in Hungary), it points out the group- and community character and the interest advocacional function of social work.  This approach is equal to the inernational Code of Ethics developed by the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) which has been internationally accepted for decades.
The group has stood out in street protests for those in need since March 2011, when dr. Máté Kocsis, mayor of Budapest’s 8th district and Fidesz-KDNP’s Member of Parlament classified dumpster diving and living on street as a misdimeanor, punishable with fining or (in case of unability to pay the fines) imprisonment. So did Norbert Ferencz at the musical, dumpster diving demonstration that became the object of his trial. In accordance to the values set in the Code of Ethics and his Professional Oath, he stood out against the municipal orders that criminalize homelessness, and called upon the solidarity of all present.
His actions have been considered by the 8th District Prosecutor’s Office as an act of incitement against the law. On the 4th of November 2011, the Pest Central District Court found him guilty on the first stage and sentenced him to 3 years probation.
This young socail worker’s vocational behavior and it’s legal judgement – as a social message – started a new chapter in the history of social work in Hungary. Therefore the question is rightful: will conscientious social work in Hungary from now on necessarily be against the law?!
The Social Vocational Federation – as the largest professional association of social workers – considers:

1. Instead of criminalizing homelessness, social workers find that integrated homeless-strategy and complex problem handling are the acceptable social reactions. The solutions must involve securing the minimum of subsistance: (besides the currently deficient monetary aid) more feeding possibilities (free meals, food banks,  etc.), real housing in accordance with human dignity, social housing and rental assistance programs, the utilization of presently empty apartments in the matter of these.
2. The values and norms of social work are made clear in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the convention about Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, promulgated with the 1993 XXXI. law, dated in Rome on the 4th of November 1950.

3.  The Ombudsman explored constitutional concerns about the incriminated law. According to the report made in June 2011 by the Ombudsman’s Office, the regulation is contrary to the principle of equal treatment.

4. The arrangements made in Budapest are contrary to the European Homelessness Strategy accepted by the European Parlament.

5. Norbert Ferencz and all participants of the demonstration acted in accordance with the Code of Ethics, their vocational values and norms.

Therefore we protest cancelling the regulation banning dumpster diving and all similar laws, and developing humane solutions in collaboration with the affected and the social professionals. The Social Vocational Federation will stand out against the socially unfair laws with all – possibly legal – tools.
In this case, when the proceedings are pending, we have to make it known to the publicity and the government that the representatives of social work are willing to make a living chain demonstration on the day of the second stage of Norbert Ferencz’s trial against the abominable and dissembler regulations, hoping that many will join the action.

Budapest, 9th of November 2011. 

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