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Police officers get too light sentence for using degrading treatment against disabled persons

Translation is available for this content

Váltás magyarra

The Hungarian Helsinki Committee finds that the 16 June 2009 ruling of the Pécs Appellate Court is unacceptable, as it reduced the suspended imprisonment imposed in the first instance on police officers from Csurgó, who had humiliated two mentally handicapped individuals, to a fine without a ban from police service.

In the view of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, the convicted police officers proved that they were unworthy and unfit to perform police service by committing this grievous violation. This cannot be “evened out” by their previous good conduct; as such violations go against the very essence of police work and destroy public trust in the police. Therefore, police officers who so severely abuse the power given to them do not deserve a second chance in this line of work.

Regardless of its decision about imprisonment, the Pécs Appellate Court should have determined, in its final decision, the unworthiness of the police officers involved by banning them from police service, instead of delegating to the discretion of their superiors whether to take disciplinary action and dismiss them from service.

The Hungarian Helsinki Committee finds it regrettable, that, as per the Pécs Appellate Court’s judgment, intentionally humiliating vulnerable, disadvantaged individuals, recording this on video and sharing it with other police officers are not sufficient reasons for disqualification from police service. It is even more regrettable, however, that this ruling is not unprecedented – court frequently apply double standards when police are involved, and take past professional conduct into account as a mitigating circumstance even when unworthiness for police duty follows from the nature of the criminal act itself.

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Hungarian Helsinki Committee