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Police Jail and Prison Monitoring Program (1996/2000-2017)

The Hungarian Helsinki Committee’s Police Jail Monitoring Program started in 1996, on the basis of an agreement concluded with the National Police Headquarters. The goal of the project is to monitor  the conditions of detention implemented in police cells. Monitoring groups, which consist of attorneys, physicians, social workers and sociologists are permitted to visit police facilities at any time without advance notice. They are also allowed to enter police jails, cells and facilities used for holding detainees, may observe the state of police cells, and may have unsupervised interviews with the detainees. According to the agreement, if the monitors experience any sort of irregularity, the HCC is obliged to inform, immediately after the visit, the police organ supervising the police jail, and the National Police Headquarters or the prosecutor’s office. At present, the program covers eight counties plus Budapest.

In 2000, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, based on the success of monitoring police jails, began to carry out human rights monitoring of penitentiary institutions as well, on the basis of agreement of cooperation with the National Headquarters of Penitentiary. The monitors observe respect for human rights, detention conditions, health care provided to the detainees and also their social situation. According to the agreement, the HHC monitors are entitled to enter all national penitentiary institutions with an advance notice, where they are allowed to speak with the detainees without supervision, complete questionnaire interviews, and visit all the premises of the institution. The 4-6 member monitoring teams are composed of attorneys, law students, social workers and a physician who analyses the detainees’ medical complaints. Following each visit, the HHC prepares a report detailing the findings of the visit and sends it for comments to the penitentiary institution in question and to the National Headquarters of Penitentiary. Thereafter, the report may be released and is also uploaded to the Committee’s website.

In 2008 funded by: Trust for Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe


Related publications:

Presumption of Guilt– Injurious Treatment and the Activity of Defense Counsels in Criminal Proceedings against Pre-trial Detainees

Double Standard– Prison Conditions in Hungary



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Hungarian Helsinki Committee