Hungarian Authorities' Cover Up of Brutal Police Interrogation Violated ECHR

The European Court of Human Rights has determined that the Hungarian authorities violated the fundamental human rights of a Roma man by covering up a coercive police interrogation.

The victim, a client of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, was arrested and taken to a police station in 2010. Upon his release, he filed charges against the Hungarian authorities claiming that during the twelve hours of his arrest and interrogation he was brutally assaulted and humiliated by six policemen and two security guards so as to coerce a plea agreement from him.

The policemen told the man they "do not even care if you drop dead. At least there will be one less Gypsy." The incident had a devastating psychological impact on the man.

A few hours after his release from police custody, the man was hospitalised. According to the clinical evidence from the hospital, he sustained injuries to the skull, nose, shoulder, hip, arm, hand and thigh. An investigation initiated based on his allegations was terminated by the prosecutor's office, which maintained that it could not be established beyond reasonable doubt that the assault had, in fact, been committed by the suspects.

Institutional racism

Assisted by the HCLU, the injured party turned to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), claiming a violation of the prohibition of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment (Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights) and the principle of non-discrimination.

The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) intervened in the proceedings in order to help the man's case. ERRC requested that the Court take into account the existence of institutional racism in the country.

The ECtHR's judgment held that the Hungarian government had failed to refute the plaintiff's claim that his injuries had been caused at the police station. Furthermore, the Strasbourg court maintained that the investigation conducted by the Hungarian authorities had not been effective, nor had it involved an examination of the potential racist motives of the abuse.

Share

Related articles

Huddled up Under the Hospital Bed – Being a Parent at the Hospital

“My son was placed in a hospital ward of about 10 square metres in size, with four cribs in it, all of them occupied. Consequently, mothers had only chairs left to sit on. My partner’s idea was putting a foam rubber mat under the crib and sleeping there, huddled up. A couple of other mothers followed her lead.

Hungary's Government Has Taken Control of the Constitutional Court

The Hungarian government has filled the Constitutional Court with loyal judges to create a judicial rubber stamp for government interests, according to a study by Hungarian NGOs of recent Constitutional Court decisions.

HCLU: The Hungarian Example

Presented by Máté Dániel Szabó (Director of Programs, HCLU) at the international conference "No country for civil society – What strategies can human rights organizations follow under increasingly authoritarian regimes?" on 30 May, 2014, Budapest