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. However, since 2014, significant positive developments have been detected in the statistical data: there has been a reduction of around 20% in the number of cases in which pre-trial detention is ordered, corresponding to a decrease in the number of prosecutorial motions aimed at ordering this coercive measure. This decrease in the use of pre-trial detention does not, however, guarantee that judicial decisions and indeed the decision-making process as a whole are consistently compliant with standards established by the higher Hungarian judicial forums, the European Court of Human Rights and relevant European Union legislation.
The HHC is an implementing partner organization of the Fair Trials International in the international research project titled “The Practice of Pre-Trial Detention: Monitoring Alternatives and Judicial Decision-Making”, with funding from the European Commission, which aims to examine exactly the quality of judicial decision-making. The HHC hopes that the present, unique research, covering 10 Member States of the European Union, will contribute to have a fuller picture of the practice of pre-trial detention, and, in the end, to decreasing the number of pre-trial detentions violating fundamental rights.
In the framework of the project the HHC conducted a desk research, covering the Hungarian legal provisions, the domestic judicial practice and the available statistical data, and gathered data on the domestic pre-trial decision-making process and the use of alternatives through
- a survey conducted among 31 defence counsels,
- review of the case files of 116 defendants convicted primarily for robbery,
- interviews with five prosecutors, and
- written responses provided by 10 judges to a standard set of questions.
The country-specific report on the use of pre-trial detention in Hungary, comparing Hungarian practice with domestic law and international standards, is available here in English and in Hungarian:
- The Practice of Pre-Trial Detention: Monitoring Alternatives and Judicial Decision-Making
- Az előzetes letartóztatás gyakorlata: az alternatív kényszerintézkedések és a bírói döntéshozatal vizsgálata
The project is funded by the Criminal Justice Programme of the European Commission.