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European Court of Human Rights judgments on police ill-treatment still not executed

In its communication submitted to the Committee of Ministers, the HHC warns again that Hungary has been failing to address systemic deficiencies with regard to handling ill-treatment by the police, and so has been failing to execute the respective judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.

The European Court of Human Rights found in multiple cases that Hungary had violated the right to life or the prohibition of torture when failing to carry out adequate and effective investigations into allegations of ill-treatment by police officers.

The “complex and long-standing nature of the problems raised” in the judgments led the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (in the framework of supervising the execution of European Court of Human Rights judgments) to transfer the respective Gubacsi group of cases to the so-called enhanced procedure in September 2018. In its latest, October 2020 decision, the Committee of Ministers called on the Hungarian authorities, at the highest possible level, to reiterate their zero tolerance message towards ill-treatment in law enforcement, and recommended various general measures to the Hungarian authorities in order to properly execute the judgments in the Gubacsi group of cases.

The Gubacsi group of cases will be on the Committee of Ministers’ agenda again later this year, where the Committee of Ministers will also consider the latest action plan by the Hungarian Government.

The Hungarian Helsinki Committee is of the view that the Government’s action plan still does not cover key areas and continues to fail to address systemic deficiencies, and that the Hungarian government has failed to comply with the guidance provided by the decision of the Committee of Ministers. Therefore, we submitted a communication to the Committee of Ministers, arguing that to prevent, investigate and sanction police ill-treatment adequately and more effectively, Hungary should address outstanding deficiencies in the following key areas:

  • legal and practical deficiencies in relation to the video recording of police work;
  • shortcomings in police training, interrogation techniques, and assessment of police work;
  • lack of independent and adequate medical examination of detainees claiming ill-treatment;
  • presence of police officers at medical examinations of detainees as a main rule;
  • substantive shortcomings in the investigations into ill-treatment;
  • low success rate of reporting ill-treatment;
  • low success rate of indictments related to ill-treatment;
  • judicial leniency towards law enforcement officers with regard to sentencing;
  • eligibility for service of convicted law enforcement officers; and
  • the lack of effective monitoring of detention by the police and the functioning of procedural safeguards that also prevent torture.

In our communication, we also list a number of recommendations for measures the Hungarian Government should take to tackle police ill-treatment effectively.

The HHC’s full communication is available here:

Communication of the HHC to the Committee of Ministers in the Gubacsi v. Hungary group of cases (15 October 2021)

Addendum to the HHC’s communication to the Committee of the Ministers in the Gubacsi v. Hungary case (28 October 2021)

 

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Hungarian Helsinki Committee