I am afraid to speak up

Roma travelling by bicycle in Kesznyéten are systematically fined for trivialities and receive disproportionate fines for minor offences. When our film crew visited Kesznyéten, they interviewed non-Roma cyclists as well. Out of these randomly chosen 10 individuals there was only one person who had received a fine for a cycling offence. Even though on average (as seen in the accompanying video), their bicycles were not in better condition or better equipped. Still, the Non-Roma travelling by bicycle are not even stopped by the police.

You can turn on the English subtitles by starting the video and then clicking on the "cc" button

It appears that not only does the police issue fines for offences based on ethnicity, those who receive the fines are often not informed of why they got the fine. Even when there is a basis for the fine, the scale of the fine is disproportionate to the offence. In the case of a trivial offence, such as an individual releasing the handlebar with one hand on his/her bicycle for a second, the police has a right - if there is at all reason to believe the action is “dangerous to society” (this is a requirement for determining an offence)- to only give a warning to the cyclist. Instead, they hand out 5-10-20 thousand forint fines.

In specific cases it is almost impossible to prove the unlawfulness of the actions of the police, because the police have broadly defined decision-making rights. It is also impossible to prove the systematic ethnically discriminatory behavior of the police in individual cases. These procedures create a full picture of unequal treatment and discrimination when treated as a whole and can thus be considered unlawful.

Kesznyéten is just another example of the attitude of the police that can be seen in many settlements of Borsod and Heves.

Eszter Jovánovics and Melinda Zsolt

Share

Related articles

Partner, not a target group

The video introduction of HCLU's 'Roma Program not only for Romas'

They want to imprison him illegally

Orosz Béla was fined 50 thousand forints for a minor offence. In a letter sent on August 8th, he informed the police that because of his poverty, he cannot pay the fine, but would like to work off his debts through community service. He did not receive a response from the police. Two months later, the courts informed him that they will hold a hearing regarding the conversion of his fine into a prison sentence. This procedure is illegal; the judicial authorities disregarded the laws relating to offences.

The horse-dealing policeman

József was fined for 30.000 forints for a minor offence. He did not pay, because he had nothing to pay with. 3-4 days later, a policaman came, and told him that if he does not pay the fine, he has to go to prison. József then called to his neighbor, to tell him his horse was for sale. The policeman told him he shouldn’t sell the horse to the neighbor, and brought over his own friend, who was there in 10 minutes and took the horse worth 100 thousand for 30.500.