Police in the Hungarian town of Gyöngyöspata violated the right to equal treatment of Roma citizens by not protecting them from extremists, a court of first instance ruled on September 17. The judgment also found discrimination against Roma in police fining practices.
The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, acting independently, initiated the lawsuit against the Heves County Police Department in order to protect the rights of Roma in Gyöngyöspata.
The lawsuit alleged a violation of the country’s equal treatment act when police failed to protect Roma citizens from, among other things, patrols by the Civil Guard Association for a Better Future, an extremist group that organized illegal patrols of the town. In 2014, the association was disbanded in the same manner as the Hungarian Guard, a far-right group dissolved by court order in 2009.
In its judgment, the court determined that the inaction of the police was a form of discrimination and they had failed in their duty to defend and enforce the rights of Roma citizens.
A better future?
At HCLU’s request, the court ordered the Heves police to feature the judgment on its website and inform the Hungarian Bureau of Communication about the judgment’s availability. The court dismissed the other claims of the applicant.
It is HCLU’s hope that the judgment will force police to better respect the fundamental rights of Hungary’s largest ethnic minority group, although the judgment is not final. Still, coming four years after the events in question, the decision may bring some satisfaction to the Roma of Gyöngyöspata.
Read a detailed report on the lawsuit here.
Watch our video about the trial.