In June 2008 the HHC sent a public interest information request to all Budapest-based police stations to find out in how many cases the police had appointed ex officio defense counsels in mandatory defense cases in 2007, who were the individual appointed attorneys and how many cases were given to each attorney.
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.
Lifelong imprisonment without the possibility of parole (actual life sentence) was introduced into Hungarian criminal law in 1998. Hungary and the UK are the only EU Member States whose legal system makes it possible to impose a so-called “actual life sentence” on perpetrators of serious crimes.
The Hungarian Helsinki Committee has been advocating for the ratification and the proper implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture. Below the most important steps and developments of the project can be consulted.
The Hungarian system of complaints against unlawful police action has been criticised being dysfunctional due to systemic and procedural reasons. The most important flaw was that the police rather than an independent body decided all complaints. The institutional culture of this military-type organization is still characterized by lack of transparency and strong internal loyalty.
Partly as a result of the HHC’s advocacy efforts, a new body for examining complaints against the police, the Independent Police Complaints Board (IPCB) was established by a June 2007 amendment of the Police Act. The HHC has been monitoring the development of the IPCB’s case-law since the establishment of the new complaints body.
The system of prison complaints is dysfunctional due to systemic and procedural reasons and does not meet international standards throughout the CEE-FSU region.As previous discussions and presentations suggest, in most of these countries the prison complaints mechanism as it operates lacks transparency and fairness and does not meet international standards.
ID check is the most frequently used police measure in Hungary: on average, more than 1.5 million checks have been conducted in recent years. However, the practice of ID checks has not been analyzed so far.
The Hungarian Helsinki Committee’s STEPSS (Strategies for Effective Police Stop and Search) project was aimed at assessing the practice of ID checks and monitor ethnic profiling while improving the relations of the police and the Roma minority through increasing the effectiveness and accountability of police powers to conduct identity checks and searches.
The excessive and lengthy use of pre-trial detention continues to be a serious problem throughout the Central Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union (CEE-FSU) region, and the practice of pre-trial detention in most countries of the region seems to be contrary to the case law of the European Court of Human Rights.