Court Agrees With HCLU: Hungarian Police Discriminated Against Roma

In its final ruling, the Hungarian Supreme Court (Curia) said that Hungarian police officers discriminated Roma in one town by failing to take appropriate action against extremist organizations.

The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) initiated an actio popularis lawsuit based on the Equal Treatment Act of Hungary (ETA) against the Heves County Police Department in order to enforce the rights of Roma in the village of Gyöngyöspata. The aim of the lawsuit was to have the court affirm that the actions of the police in Gyöngyöspata in 2011 were unlawful and violated the right to equal treatment of local Roma.

The judgment represents a particularly important and decisive development in terms of the protection of rights and case law in Hungary: this was the first time that the Curia stated in a public interest lawsuit that the police committed negative discrimination against Roma citizens.

Public apology?

In explaining its judgment, the Curia emphasized that the extremists patrolling Gyöngyöspata constituted a serious crime of racism, only outdone by the serial killings of Roma in Hungary. The police should have intervened, the court said.

In addition to affirming the violation of rights, the Curia also banned the police from committing similar acts in the future, and the court called on the police to publicly apologize.

All of this may help the police have more respect for members of the largest minority group in Hungary.