Hungary | Commissioner for Fundamental Rights on the delivery of registered mail to blind and partially-sighted persons

By default, Magyar Posta [the Hungarian postal service] allows the delivery of registered mail to blind and partially-sighted persons only in the presence of a witness of full age. The Ombudsman learned from the press about this issue. The person interviewed told the journalist that he had been blind for forty years, but he did not find it necessary to have somebody present when receiving official documents. He complained that strangers might learn about his personal affairs. When he turned to Magyar Posta, he was told that blind and partially-sighted persons are “lumped in with those who are illiterate”.

Upon initiating an ex officio inquiry into the matter, Commissioner for Fundamental Rights László Székely has found out that, by virtue of the Government Decree on postal services, registered mail may be delivered to an addressee who cannot write or, due to any reason, is writing impaired, or to any other entitled recipient only in the presence of a literate witness of full age.

In his report, the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights has pointed out that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) requires a change of perspective in the Hungarian legal system. It means that persons living with disabilities are members of equal standing, value, and rights in society, who are in need of not charity but some assistance enabling them to live their lives as independently as possible.

According to Ombudsman Székely, through enabling persons living with disabilities to manage their affairs independently the legislator would not deprive them of the possibility to avail themselves of support should they decide to do so. However, the mandatory presence of a witness of full age when delivering registered mail to visually impaired, blind persons is an unjustifiable, additional requirement that constitutes discrimination based on disability.

The Ombudsman has established that the prevailing regulations and judicial practices infringe on the requirement of equal treatment and do not meet the requirements specified in the CRPD. The Commissioner for Fundamental Rights has called attention to the fact that the use of postal services shall be ensured independently, in a barrier-free manner to blind and partially-sighted persons as well.

Ombudsman László Székely has requested the competent Ministries to prepare, with the cooperation of Magyar Posta Zrt. and the advocacy organizations concerned, a new regulation that would enable blind and partially-sighted persons to decide whether they require the assistance of a witness during the delivery of official documents. The Commissioner has recommended the competent ministries to explore the possibility of how to make postal services barrier-free for blind and partially-sighted persons. The Commissioner for Fundamental Rights has also requested the President & CEO of Magyar Posta Zrt. to modify the current practice of delivery to visually impaired persons who are capable of writing.


Source: Office of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights, Hungary

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