New Definitive Report on Slovakia’s Current Application of Discriminatory Benes Decrees  

Legal expert Dr. Janos Fiala-Butora’s extensive 80-page report with annexes documenting Slovakia’s ongoing ethnic-based discrimination has been issued by FICE (Freedom and identity in Central Europe). Ever since 2009, Slovak authorities have been applying the discredited WWII-era Benes Decree (Regulation) 104/1945 toconfiscate private property – without compensation – specifically from those of ethnic Hungarian and German ancestry on grounds that these lands should have been confiscated from their ancestors in the 1940s.

The report offers definitive evidence from the hundreds of cases compiled from victims and their legal representatives. An executive summary is also available.

The Benes Decrees assigned collective guilt for the world war to these two ethnic groups, depriving them of their citizenship, fundamental rights and private property between 1945 and 1948. As underscored in Point 15: “those Hungarians and Germans affected by Regulation No. 104/1945 were innocent […] Those who were not individually prosecuted for any wrongdoing lost their land under Regulation 104/1945 if they had a Hungarian or German ethnicity. Punishment of innocents is therefore not a mistake in the system: the sole purpose of this regulation was to punish innocent people.” [emphasis added]

“The right to property is protected by the European Convention on Human Rights (Article 2 of Additional Protocol No. 1). Any confiscation on the basis of collective guilt, purely on the basis of ethnicity, is in breach of these international norms. The state cannot avoid responsibility simply by making the confiscations retroactive, or formally renaming them something else than confiscations.” (Point 17)

While several media outlets, HHRF and others have reported on this astounding human rights violation in the past few years, Western governments, institutions and decision-makers fail to call out Slovakia. Despite official Slovak public assertions to the contrary, the report leaves no doubt that “It is no longer simply our claim that the decrees are still in force, they are confirmed by the Ministry of Justice, the Supreme Court of Slovakia, and the European Court of Human Rights, ” writes Fiala-Butora in Point 21.

In fact, the timing of the uptick in confiscations can no longer be viewed as coincidental and “put[s] a new light on the Slovak Parliament’s 2007 resolution upholding the Benes Decrees” (Point 24), that occurred subsequent to the country’s EU accession during which the European Commission conducted no legal scrutiny.  Read HHRF’s October 2007 report on the Slovak resolution and outcry under then Prime Minister Robert Fico.  

“We consider that these new revelations seriously question the integrity of the rule of law in Slovakia, the country’s commitment to fundamental human rights, protection of minority rights, and non-discrimination—all cornerstones of EU law.” (Point 24)

The advocates for the rights the Hungarian minority in Slovakia conclude with the intent of and hoped for responses to the report:
“[W]e are hoping for an honest dialogue between the domestic stakeholders, representatives of the Slovak Government and Hungarians in Slovakia, about how Slovakia could face its past (and present) and find a solution to this issue which leads to reconciliation rather than conflict, in the spirit of upholding fundamental human rights. We sincerely hope that in light of these new revelations, international organizations will do their utmost to contribute to this solution, and instead of legitimizing the problem by turning a blind eye to it, they will use their powers to conduct a thorough investigation, remind Slovakia of its obligations under EU law, and compel Slovakia to repeal the Beneš decrees by compensating its victims.”

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