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Joint NGO statement on the racist statements of Miskolc police chief

Translation is available for this content

Váltás magyarra

On 30 January 2009, Albert Pásztor, head of the Miskolc Police Headquarters held a press conference concerning robberies committed in the city of Miskolc. After the press conference, where he mentioned that all the robberies in the preceding two months had been committed by Roma perpetrators, he gave an interview, in which he said: “We can conclude that the robberies perpetrated in public areas are committed by Gypsy persons. Hungarians seem to rob banks or patrol stations, but all other robberies are committed by Gypsies.” Furthermore, he said that it is the police’s duty to raise the awareness of the population concerning the Roma issue, and the ethnic confrontation may not be solved by remaining silent about the problem. He also stated that Hungarians should refrain from attending bars in certain parts of the city, since they may become victims of Roma perpetrators, and the problem is that “cute Gypsy children often grow into rude and cruel perpetrators”. Later on he said to the National News Agency (MTI) that in his opinion, the ethnic affiliation of the defendants may be taken into consideration in the course of criminal proceedings.

The HHC, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (TASZ), the Legal Defense Bureau for National and Ethnic Minorities (NEKI) and the Eötvös Károly Institute issued a joint statement on 3 February 2009, protesting against the statements of the head of the Miskolc Police Headquarters. A colleague of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee also took part on a field visit in Miskolc, together with the head of the Roma Civil Rights Foundation (Roma Polgárjogi Alapítvány) and sociologists.

Upon the instruction of the Minister of Justice and Law Enforcement, the National Police Headquarters initiated an inquiry into the case, and Pásztor was suspended from his position due to his racist statements. At the same time, the local and regional branches of all the parliamentary parties expressed their support for the police chief, and organized a joint demonstration in his favor. Finally, his suspension was terminated by the Head of the National Police Headquarters only two days after the press conference, and he could continue his work as head of the city police. The Minister of Justice and Law Enforcement approved of the termination of the suspension, even though he had previously said that Pásztor’s conduct was unacceptable.


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Hungarian Helsinki Committee