Hungary has to change its laws and practice in many respects in order to prevent, investigate and sanction police ill-treatment more effectively, shows a decision published today by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.
The Committee of Ministers supervises the execution of the judgments delivered by the European Court of Human Rights. This week, among others, it examined a group of cases in which the ECtHR found that Hungary had violated the prohibition of torture when failing to carry out adequate and effective investigations into allegations of ill-treatment by police officers.
In its decision, the Committee of Ministers called on the authorities, at the highest possible level, to reiterate their zero tolerance message towards ill-treatment in law enforcement. In addition, it recommended the following to the Hungarian authorities:
- urged the authorities to improve the quality of the medical examination of detained persons in police holding facilities complaining of ill-treatment, to establish an independent medical examination body mandated to examine alleged victims of ill-treatment, and to ensure the full confidentiality of detainees’ medical examinations also in practice;
- encouraged the authorities to increase their efforts towards equipping a maximum number of police vehicles with operating sound and image recording devices, to extend the use of body cameras within the police force as well as to reflect on measures leading to the installation of adequate recording devices in all police detention facilities; and to reflect on the possibility of extending the scope of instances where video recording of interrogations is mandatory;
- expressed grave concern both at the very low rates of indictment following complaints of ill‑treatment by law enforcement officers and at the reportedly lenient sentences imposed by courts in these cases, and exhorted the authorities in relation to that to present a strategic plan aimed at tackling and eradicating the problem of ineffective investigations into police ill-treatment;
- recommended the provision of adequate and systematic training to all actors involved in order to prevent and combat ill-treatment by law enforcement officers; and
- to enhance the operation and effectiveness of the National Preventive Mechanism function of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights.
These recommendations echo almost point by point the suggestions the Hungarian Helsinki Committee has been making for years, on the basis of our experiences gained through the cases of our clients and our research. For more information, see our 2-pager and our detailed policy brief here.
Police ill-treatment should not go unpunished. If you have been a victim of ill-treatment in official proceeding or coercive interrogation by the Hungarian police, contact us for free legal aid.