Hungarian police tend to ignore the racists motivations behind crimes even if the laws required for that are in place, five Hungarian NGOs said on Wednesday in a joint statement.
Police regularly underestimate the element of prejudice in crimes committed against minority groups, said Amnesty International Hungary, LMBT group Hatter, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, the Legal Defence Bureau for National and Ethnic Minorities and the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union.
Frequently militant groups are accused of the petty offence of rowdiness instead of the crime of violence against members of a community, they said. Neither the police, nor the government are able to act effectively and quickly “if the safety and security of our Roma compatriots are at stake,” they added.
The five NGOs brought up the recent incidents in Cegled, Devecser and the Budapest Pride March as examples for such attitudes.
On August 19, around 400 people gathered on the outskirts of that central Hungarian town, most of them associated with a far-right movement. About 80 police officers guarded the houses of Roma residents. No incidents were reported.
A fact-finding investigation initiated by the national police chief concluded that police “handled the conflict excellently” and managed to prevent “further violations of law”.
On August 5 the radical nationalist Jobbik party and several far-right groups held a demonstration in Devecser, demanding the re-introduction of capital punishment in Hungarian law. Press reports said the march passed through streets inhabited by Roma and two people were injured during altercations.
In June last year hundreds of police officers provided for the security of the Budapest Pride. About 600 counter-demonstrators attempted to break through the cordon and kept hurling insults at the marchers.