On 12-13 October, Hungarian Ministry of Justice and the Department for the Execution of Judgments organised a Round Table on professional policing and treatment of apprehended persons by law enforcement. The event took place at the St. László Chapel of the University of Public Service in Budapest.
The Round Table focused on preventing torture and other forms of ill-treatment at the hands of law enforcement agents. It aimed at addressing the compatibility of Hungarian law and practice with the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights and to draw on the decisions adopted by the Committee of Ministers in the context of the execution by Hungary of the Gubacsi group of cases and on the reports on Hungary by the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT).
The event was opened, among others, by the Director of Human Rights of the Council of Europe and the Secretary of State responsible for European Affairs at the Ministry of Justice. Speakers from diverse backgrounds attended the event, such as members of the CPT, lecturers from the University of Public Service and representatives of the Office of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights, the police and the prosecution.
The first panel discussion aimed at assessing the current legislative framework in respect of investigating and prosecuting police ill-treatment, as well as the possible need for further improvement, including any further legislative or regulatory reforms.
The second panel discussed effective safeguards against ill-treatment, in particular, identifying concrete measures to improve safeguards aimed at combatting ill-treatment mainly during arrest and in police custody. The discussion covered, among others, the facilitation of video recording of interrogations.
The third panel discussion focused on developing an institutional culture of “zero tolerance” towards ill-treatment and in particular, on delivering the firm message from the police leadership that officers will be held accountable for having inflicted, instigated or tolerated any act of ill-treatment. This session covered an overview of the targeted trainings provided to law enforcement officials (including low ranking officials) in human rights compatible policing including apprehension, interviewing and other law enforcement operations.
Lastly, the fourth panel concerned complaint mechanisms and effective investigations into police ill-treatment. The discussion covered, among others, the impact of the centralisation of investigations into police ill-treatment by specific prosecution authorities since 2019 and the role of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights as the National Preventive Mechanism.
The execution by Hungary of the Gubacsi group of cases will be re-examined by the Committee of Ministers at its Human Rights meeting on 6-8 December 2022.