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.

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The 111.§ clearly states that if fines are not paid within 30 days, they need to be collected like taxes. If this is unsuccessful, then it must be turned into community service, except when the individual does not agree. The fine will only be turned into a prison sentence if the individual does not agree to community service. In our case, Béla even asked for community service. Regardless, the police should have asked him if he would accept a community service sentence. We recommend for everyone to accept community service. Even apart from the fact that this sentence does not include incarceration, the duration is also shorter (one day of community service is the equivalent of 5000 Ft in fines; its duration can be a maximum of 20 days, and one day of community service is maximum 6 hours- in comparison, 1000-3000 Ft of the fine constitutes one day of the prison sentence, and the maximum sentence is 60 days!). An HCLU lawyer accompanied Béla to his court hearing. We are interested to hear the court’s argumentation: what makes the authorities disregard the law?


Most people hardly hear or know anything about the living conditions and everyday concerns of the Roma population living in extreme poverty, often in segregated settlements.

During their visits in North-Eastern Hungary, our colleagues interview locals about the issues they are currently most concerned with. The aim of our new series entitled “Make Your Voice Seen” is to deliver the messages of these people to a broader public.

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