A report by experts of the Council of Europe who paid visits to several Hungarian prisons last April was released on Wednesday.
The report said verbal and physical abuse was witnessed in several of the six police detention facilities and ten national correctional institutions which the six experts of CoE’s committee responsible for preventing torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment visited.
According to the report promulgated at the 47-member-state pan-European organisation, some of the abuse was motivated by racism. Several respondents also told the committee that police officers were unnecessarily violent and abused suspects verbally.
The CoE experts have made various recommendations for preventing and eliminating such occurrences. The recommendations range from sending notifications to family members of the convicts to broadening the authority of the police complaints body.
The report makes special mention of the overcrowded state of the prisons visited.
The government has prepared and disseminated within the CoE a comprehensive 30-page response to the report with its findings, observations and recommendations.
Concerning police violence against detainees, the government noted the perpetrators were being prosecuted, while in other cases it had been established that what the detainees perceived as violence had actually been legitimate coercion.
In connection with the case of two police officers charged with beating a suspect to death, interior minister Sandor Pinter assured the CoE delegation that the incident had been a one-off, and not at all characteristic of Hungary’s police culture. The CoE report, however, urged precautionary measures to prevent the recurrence of such incidents.
CoE’s experts have also recommended that a mechanism should be put in place to protect officers reporting offences committed by their peers, and urged that the diversity of society should be reflected in the composition of the police force to help eliminate racism.
A separate report by the CoE released on Tuesday said that Hungary was among states such as Serbia, Italy, Cyprus, and Belgium, where the crowdedness of law enforcement facilities posed the biggest problems.