Műhelyvita - Fiala-Butora János: Current confiscations of property based on collective guilt under the Beneš decrees in Slovakia as a violation of international norms - when the past haunts the present

   2024. április 11. 10:00 - 2024. április 11. 12:00

The Beneš Decrees, laws punishing the German and Hungarian communities of Czechoslovakia after World War II based on the principle of collective guilt, are considered a historical phenomenon by most authors. This article argues that they give basis to violations of fundamental rights that are taking place currently. After showing that Slovak authorities started applying the decree on confiscating property in 2018 against current owners of property, it analyses how these measures can take place without avoiding international scrutiny, and how the Slovak government tries to justify them. Slovakia as a member of the European Union is bound by its Charter of Fundamental Rights, and is a signatory to human rights treaties that protect the right to property and freedom from discrimination. Confiscations on the basis of ethnicity, applying the principle of collective guilt, constitute a severe violation of these norms. The article argues that it is not the subsequent Slovak governments’ intention to conduct confiscations currently, but their inability to address the historic problem caused by the Decrees led to legal uncertainty which manifests in the current problems.

Opponensek: Halász Iván, DsC (JTI); Tárnok Balázs (NKE)