Does bias (not) count!?

The police failed to consider that the assault on the chairmen of the Raoul Wallenberg Association bears an anti-semitic bias and failed to investigate the incident as hate crime despite the fact that the law provides greater protection for the victims of hate crime. Apparently, the judicial practice presents deficiencies in this area.

Ferenc Orosz, the Chairman of the Raoul Wallenberg Association reported that over the weekend at a soccer game – after disapproving of certain fans’ neo-Nazi comments- he was physically and verbally assaulted and his nose was broken. The police launched an investigation for physical assault. Based on the victim’s report, there is a well-founded possibility of the presence of anti-Semitic bias therefore an investigation must be launched for hate crime against a member of a group.

The experts and members of human rights organizations of the Work Group Against Hate Crime (GYEM at www.gyuloletellen.hu) – who provide legal counsel to hate crime victims – repeatedly presented that legal protection of the victims of hate crime in Hungary is not adequately ensured due to lack of readiness and aptitude within the judicial practice. Members of the police often do not recognize the bias in certain incidents due to lack of training, education, expert dialogue and investigation protocol. Therefore, these incidents will be investigated as non-bias occurrences even though in reality these are significantly more severe cases.
In August 2012, far-right groups assaulted Roma people by throwing rocks at them and their houses in Devecser. Around the same time, participants of a gay festival were threatened that their houses will be burned down. Rocks were thrown at the windows of Jewish participants during a celebration. Despite the fact that the bias is widely apparent to anyone in these incidents, the police failed to recognize such bias behind these assaults. This lack of recognition produces grave consequences as the racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic and other bias-motivated assaults against vulnerable groups offend the victims’ identity thus intimidating the entire social group and eventually threatening living together in peace as a society. Therefore, the criminal judicial practice is strongly encouraged to pay special attention to prevention and recognition of hate crime and to ensure appropriate prosecution of the perpetrators of hate crime.  Smaller improvements are present in creating a protective, internationally acceptable environment for the victims of hate crime. Nonetheless, a comprehensive change has yet to be realized.
The NGOs’ expectations from the government are as follows:
-          implementation of special trainings on identification and application of bias-motivated crimes for members of the authorities;
-          development of data compilation system to present the actual number of hate crimes;
-          improvement of counseling services for hate crime victims;
-          introduction of efficient organizational and professional solutions for improved investigations.

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