The European Court of Human Rights established in 2015 that overcrowding in penitentiaries in Hungary constitutes a structural problem. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe examines the Varga and Others v. Hungary under the enhanced procedure.
In its communication submitted on 26 January 2021 the HHC provided an assessment and recommendations regarding
- issues related to resolving prison-overcrowding,
- the underuse of alternative sanctions,
- issues related to the contacts with the outside world, and
- the current legal environment and practice regarding detention conditions and issues concerning the compensatory remedy for inhuman or degrading detention conditions.
As the Government’s submission was submitted after the deadline given to the HHC, an Addendum has been submitted on 10 February 2021. In its Addendum, the HHC pointed out that
- the Government had failed to bring the Hungarian legal framework in line with the Convention’s requirement, and failed to consult with stakeholders before the reform of the compensatory remedy system for inhumane or degrading detention condition,
- the detainee’s right of peaceful enjoyment of compensation is illusory in practice, as according to the current regulation they cannot access it as long as they are detained,
- lawyers’ fees are not payable from the compensation before release, which is likely to discourage lawyers from taking such cases, rendering the inmates’ access to lawyers and thus indirectly making detainees’ access more difficult to the compensation procedure.
The HHC submitted a third document on 5 March 2021, welcoming a new amendment that includes prison health care units and the prison hospital to the compensation scheme.
HHC’s previous update submitted in August 2020 is available here.