Law Enforcement And Criminal Justice | Magyar Helsinki Bizottság
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TAX NUMBER: 19013983-1-42

People often feel vulnerable to law enforcement agencies. The HHC offers help in this inbalanced power relationship: we provide legal advice, legal representation, regularly monitor places of detention as well as make recommendations to improve people’s capacities to enforce their rights when they come into contact with the police and the prison service. Through our activities, closed institutions become more transparent and citizens’ vulnerability decreases.

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During the past few years, pre-trial detainees have made up almost one-third of the prison population in Hungary, contributing to the overcrowding of the penitentiary system, which, according to a 2015 judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, constitutes a structural problem in Hungary. For over half a decade until 2013, the number of pre-trial detainees in Hungary had increased constantly.

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In 2011, a police officer halted the car of a man in the outskirts of the city of Tatabánya. After getting into an oral dispute (the HHC’s future client refused to hand over his ID card along with his driver’s licence, claiming that the latter already proved his identity), the police officer dragged him out of his car, pushed him onto the trunk of his vehicle, handcuffed him so tightly that caused him injuries and arrested him.

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The HHC’s client, a young man, was placed in pre-trial detention in November 2007. In March 2008, he was transferred to the Bács-Kiskun County Penitentiary Institution for five days, where he was placed in a cell with nine other inmates, eight of whom being already convicted inmates, even though the law says that pre-trial detainees cannot be placed in the same cell with convicts.

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Ill-treatment has been prohibited by international and regional instruments and conventions for many decades. Yet torture and other forms of inhuman or degrading treatment at the hands of state officials, and particularly those engaged in the criminal justice systems of member states, continue to feature in many European countries. It also appears that the frequency of ill-treatment is not declining.

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Fair Trials and the Hungarian Helsinki Committee organized a practitioner training on 19-21 June in Budapest attended by lawyers from Croatia, Slovenia, the Netherlands and Hungary. The training provided presentations delivered by experts of the Fair Trials on the roadmap directives and a forum for discussion about the relevant practical experiences of the participating lawyers.

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