22 June 2020
The HHC provided input for the upcoming report of the Special Rapporteur on Torture on psychosocial dynamics conducive to torture and ill-treatment.
In the framework of preparing a report on psychosocial dynamics conducive to torture and ill-treatment, the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment invited states, civil society, experts and other stakeholders to provide, by 21 June 2020, input on the relevant psychosocial dynamics conducive to torture and ill-treatment and on recommended normative, institutional and policy measures of prevention and mitigation.
In the report, the Special Rapporteur aims to explore some of the predominant psychosocial dynamics which, in practice, tend to undermine, circumvent or even paralyse institutional checks and balances, thereby creating environments of unchecked power conducive not only to corruption but also to torture and ill-treatment. The larger purpose of the report is to show that the widespread practice of torture and ill-treatment, as well as societal acquiescence or support for such abuse, are deeply rooted in collective psychosocial behavioural patterns, which either remain largely unconscious to the human mind, or are based on fundamentally flawed rationalizations and severely distorted perceptions of reality.
The Hungarian Helsinki Committee has been representing victims of ill-treatment by law enforcement officers before the domestic courts and the European Court of Human Rights for decades, and has conducted and contributed to numerous researches in the field. Our input provided for the Special Rapporteur’s call is based on these experiences. We address the role of the following factors in creating an environment conducive to torture and ill-treatment:
- ineffective and inadequate investigations into allegations of ill-treatment,
- structural deficiencies in relation to the medical examination of persons claiming ill-treatment,
- the lack of proper video recording of police work in various scenarios,
- the lack of zero tolerance messaging from high-level law enforcement and government officials, coupled with structural deficiencies leading to practical impunity for torture,
- general overreliance of the national criminal justice system on confession evidence, and the courts ending up using evidence obtained by torture,
- basing the assessment of police work exclusively or primarily on statistics, coupled with general organizational problems such as the lack of adequate training and excessive overtime,
- the lack of external monitoring of places of detention, and
- systematic dehumanisation of individuals and particular groups (such as migrants), especially by state authorities, government figures, and the media.
The Hungarian Helsinki Committee’s submission is available here: