The police did not act appropriately, but fails to admit it

The police once again fails to properly classify cases, and instead of investigating the racial motivation and consider the recent incidents in Cegled violence against a member of a community, focuses on simple rowdyism – as it was made evident from the statement by the National Police.

“The police report established that the law enforcement at Cegléd had acted lawfully, decisively, and in a professional manner, and managed to prevent rights violations.” This statement of the National Police is in itself controversial, as the very same statement also claims that police had started investigations into three different cases in Cegléd. The full report on the investigation into police activity at Cegléd was not disclosed to public. However, it is evident already from this brief official statement that the police is satisfied, claiming there was no problem with the police operation at all.

Five human rights NGOs, Amnesty International Hungary, the Hatter Support Society for LGBT People, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, Hungarian Helsinki Committee, and the Legal Defence Bureau for National and Ethnic Minorities disagree with this police statement. These NGOs have experienced and criticised it for years that the Hungarian police tends to falsely classify prejudice motivated violence against minorities: if police proceedings are at all launched, they focus on the pettier act of rowdyism instead of the crime of violence against a member of a community.

The government often refers proudly to the amendments made in the Criminal Code in May 2011 following racist incidents at the village of Gyongyospata, as a result of which a new hate crime had been introduced, that is rowdyism motivated by one's ethnicity or by other prejudice. This type of hate crime refers amongst others to cases when somebody marches through a Roma settlement yelling about the eradication of Roma people, or when signs of swastika are graffiti painted on the houses of Jewish people.  

The concerns raised by the NGOs already at the enactment of the legal amendment have become a reality: this part of the hate crime law has hardly ever been used by the police when initiating investigations. The hate crime law is only properly implemented in cases when lawyers intervene, and draw authorities' attention to the hate motivation of the crime. Police does not consider the incident at Cegled as a hate crime either, despite that on 18 August people belonging to extremist groups were demonstrating rowdy behaviour and inducing alarm in the local community with an obvious anti-Roma intention. Moreover, the subsequent inquiry of the National Police into the police work at Cegled did not consider it necessary either to launch investigation into a more serious crime.

The same happened in Devecser, during a far-right demonstration: despite the crowd gathering in front of Roma people's houses and threatening the locals clearly committed the criminal offence of violence against a member of a community in groups, no perpetrators had been identity checked or taken into custody. The same practice was observed during the Budapest Pride march in 2011, when police did not take action against those who threatened the Pride participants.

Furthermore – according to the police statement – the investigation ordered by the National Police looked into police operations at Cegléd only on 19 August, whereas a larger group of extremists (appr. 50-60 people) started to march and threaten locals on the streets of Roma the day before, on 18 August. It was in fact on 18 August when the local Roma community in Cegléd felt that they did not get adequate police protection from the discriminative violence. According to locals, it was only later in the night of 18 August when extra police arriving there managed to provide a more adequate protection to them.

In spite of the smug communication of the government and the police, the joint standpoint of the undersigned human rights organizations is that neither police, nor the government is able to take timely and effective action when the personal security and integrity of fellow Roma citizens is at stake. The NGOs call on the police to consistently implement the legislation in place and to give protection to all of its citizens. In order to enforce this call and to facilitate local residents' access to justice, the organizations are offering legal representation to the victims. Additionally, they are filing a complaint with the police about the acts of negligence of the authority.

Share

Related articles

UPDATE Hungary school incident: CCTV footage does not rule out suspicion of racist acts in Konyár

Hungarian and international NGOs have responded to police statements about a possible racist attack in front of a primary school in Konyár. The Hungarian Police force has stated that there were no human rights violations on 5 September when a busload of football fans stopped in front of the school. The police based their conclusion on an unclear, mute recording, which they recently released. However, according to human rights organisations, the legality of the police reaction is disputable, and the recording is not sufficient to explain what happened in Konyár.

If there’s money, the baby will be born – if there’s no money, the baby won’t be born

While childbirth at home is accepted and legally regulated in most developed countries – In Hungary, the entire obstetrician-gynecologist profession is against childbirth outside of the institutional maternity ward. Why is this?

 

 

Civil Guard Association For a Better Future: We are not patrolling but observing

Under the guise of observations "in service of the residents”, uniformed men terrorize children and harass adults based on their ethnicity or national status in Magyarbánhegyes. According to this, it seems as if police did not defend locals against persecution. (The Civil Guard Association for a Better Future with other extremist anti-Roma groups – pretending to be militiamen and vindicating the right to maintain public order – have started a systematic campaign of intimidation against the Roma for weeks in Gyöngyöspata, Hungary in April 2011. They illegally patrolled the village and provoked the Roma adults and children.The HCLU published its Shadow Report and a documentary video about the events. The summary of the Shadow Report can be found here.