In 2013, the European Court of Human Rights decided the case of Horváth and Kiss v. Hungary in favor of the two Romani boys who alleged that they had been misdiagnosed as ‘mildly mentally retarded’ and consequently placed and retained in a special school for their whole primary education. This, they claimed, deprived them of the educational opportunity to pursue their chosen vocational interests. In this research note, I will provide a brief view of the history of special education in Hungary, and the history of mental retardation in its medical/pedagogic connections. I will suggest that the Court’s decision, while a positive development, fails to address the fundamental systemic racism of the entire medico/educational system in Hungary, and that until that more radical change is undertaken, a disproportionate number of Romani children will continue to be officially and unofficially treated as mentally deficient.
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