In the last decade, the HHC’s attorneys have successfully litigated cases before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in relation to ill-treatment by the police. Therefore, the HHC has special interest in the execution of related judgments of the ECtHR by Hungary.
The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (CoM) supervises the execution of judgments of the ECtHR, the CoM’s function being to ensure that member states comply with the judgments of the ECtHR. Since the respective rules allow NGOs to turn to the CoM, the HHC submitted communications to the CoM with regard to the execution of the following judgments concerning ill-treatment by police officers: Gubacsi v. Hungary, Borbála Kiss v. Hungary, Réti and Fizli v. Hungary, László Károly (No. 2.) v. Hungary. (In the Gubacsi v. Hungary and the Réti and Fizli v. Hungary cases applicants were represented by the HHC.)
In its communication, the HHC also addressed the action report submitted by the Hungarian Government to the CoM in relation to the execution of the above judgments, pointing out that the general measures presented or envisaged by the Hungarian Government with regard to the execution of the given judgments were insufficient, did not offer viable solutions or failed to address systemic deficiencies. Therefore, in its communication the HHC also submitted to the CoM a set of recommendations, asking the CoM to call on the Government of Hungary to comply with them.
In its communication and an addendum to it (submitted to the CoM after response to an FOI request was received), the HHC addressed the following issues:
- The independent medical examination of persons claiming that they have been ill-treated is not ensured, and the presence of police officers at medical examinations also of allegedly ill-treated persons is the main rule, not the exception.
- The video recording of interrogations is not mandatory in Hungary, and only 3% of the police interrogation rooms are equipped with an image and sound recording device. Consequently, the proportion of interrogations actually recorded is very low: e.g. in 2014 only 0.026% of the interrogations of defendants were recorded in the counties where data collection is carried out.
- The regulation on making recordings in police holding facilities is inadequate, and a recording is made in only 10.2% of the rooms for short-term arrestees. Furthermore, only 16.12% of police vehicles are equipped with sound and image recording devices, and it is entirely up to the police officer to decide when to turn the device on and off.
- The success rate of reporting ill-treatment and that of the related indictments is very low: e.g. in 2013, only 2% of the reports claiming ill-treatment by an official person resulted in an indictment, while this proportion was 1% in case of reports claiming forced interrogation. Furthermore, data show a leniency towards official persons with regard to sentencing.
- As a result of an amendment, as of January 2012 the Minister of Interior is entitled to allow police officers to continue their work even if they have been convicted to suspended imprisonment for a criminal offence involving ill-treatment.
- The outreach and depth of trainings provided to police officers on human rights and the case law and the standards of the ECtHR is inadequate.