Parliamentary commission investigating Gyöngyöspata events should also look into government responsibility | Magyar Helsinki Bizottság
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01 September 2011

The Hungarian Helsinki Committee submitted a 17-page analysis at the request of the parliamentary Committee investigating the Gyöngyöspata events. According to the HHC, the mandate for the Committee of Inquiry raises concerns as it fails to cover crucial issues, whereas it systematically emphasizes certain issues. The HHC analysis points out that – besides extremists having interest in generating ethnic tensions – failures of the government and the police have also contributed to the present situation in Gyöngyöspata.

The Helsinki Committee, after describing its activity concerning the events in Gyöngyöspata, states: it is obvious that extreme right-wing political groups intended to foment ethnic tensions, but protecting minorities from extremist and racist groups is the responsibility of the government. Thus the Helsinki Committee provides a detailed analysis on the role played by the police and the administration  in the escalation of the events. According to the Helsinki Committee, failures can be detected as follows:

1.      The police failed to dissolve a Jobbik demonstration held on 6 March 2011, which it could have done based on the judicial decisions on the dissolution of Magyar Gárda.

2.      Subsequently, initiating infringement proceedings against “patrols” and their  intimidating actions  took more than two weeks for the police, which the Ministry of Interior qualified later – based on the Hajdúhadház events – as rowdyism.

3.      The police – being more than a month late – initiated infringement proceedings only in Hajdúhadház. However, having chosen cases not carefully enough, courts have terminated all the proceedings. By the time it became clear that special categories of infringement proceedings should be introduced, it was too late.

The Helsinki Committee, in regard with the issues examined by the Committee of Inquiry, articulates that the ‘evacuation’ question is not a genuine problem. The real question is whether the intention of the Roma to move was motivated by their fear of the Véderő members. In this respect, the Helsinki Committee declares that based on the identifiable circumstances it is also detectable, that the Roma asked the Red Cross to take them away because of their fear of the Véderő.

In the context of who and why bears responsibility for our country’s bad international reputation in connection with the Gyöngyöspata events, the Helsinki Committee emphasizes that human rights organizations and  political parties generally and most legitimately draw the international public’s attention to failures of public administration. In  democratic pluralism, not everyone considers the same issues pressing human rights issues. Therefore, considering such an action as an ‘attempt of the country’s discreditation’ is dangerous and absurd.

The Helsinki Committee holds that, for the sake of eliminating extremist groups, applying the existing laws is necessary. Therefore it is necessary to examine if the dissolution organizations generating tension is possible in light of the Magyar Gárda precedent. The Commission stresses that the government needs to seriously consider civil society’s ‘early warnings’ relating to emerging ethnic conflicts. It is important to examine, whether the existing law provides adequate protection in cases similar to Gyöngyöspata. Also a protocol is required to prepare  for  handling ethnic tensions, since this type of conflicts are not expected to decrease in the short run.

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