Copy of a Hungarian Ministry of Interior report on the skinhead movement in Hungary and on relations between the Romani minority and police [HUN29312.E]

Please find electronically attached to this Response an undated Hungarian Ministry of Interior report on the skinhead movement in Hungary, relations between police and the Romani minority, programmes designed to recruit Romani police officers and information on the investigation of police officers for alleged misconduct towards Roma. The report was written by the section of the Ministry of Interior responsible for the supervision of the nation's police force. This report was provided to the Research Directorate in March 1998 by the Press and Cultural Affairs Consul at the Embassy of Hungary in Ottawa.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


Hungarian Ministry of Interior, Commission for the Protection of Public Order, Budapest. Electronic Attachment

Hungarian Ministry of Interior, Commission for the Protection of Public Order, Budapest.
Nd. Material Compiled by the Commission for the Protection of Public Order, the Organisational Unit of the Ministry of the Interior that Controls and Supervises the Work of the Police. Report provided to the Research Directorate by the Hungarian Embassy in Ottawa. Translated by the Multilingual Translation Directorate of the Department of Public Works and Government Services Canada.

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Material compiled by the Commission for the Protection of Public Order, the organizational unit of the Ministry of the Interior that controls and supervises the work of the police

1. In Hungary - according to police information - there exists only one group worthy of mention that operates on the ideological basis of racial discrimination. (I emphasize police information because - pursuant to the National Security Act - the investigation of crimes against the state, and therefore the assembling of data concerning extremist groups, falls within the scope of the National Security Office.)

In Hungary the skinhead movement emerged at the beginning of the 1980's. At that time - on the Western European model - music groups formed, the text of whose songs ran to xenophobia and attacks against minorities. The ideology of the skinheads clustering around these music groups was characterized by the following:

- the expulsion of foreigners from the country because they take employment opportunities and educational opportunities away from citizens of the nation [sic].

- the segregation of the Gypsy population because the majority of Gypsies are criminals and take unfair advantage of the significant social assistance allocated to them.

- opposition to the Jews because they occupy high management positions and, constituting a powerful community, they do not give "pure Hungarians" the opportunity to obtain positions.

The skinheads are divided into groups of 20 to 30 persons. These [groups] are partly dissociated from one another on an ideological basis. Most of them have embraced only the second of the three elements mentioned above.

According to our information, their membership nationwide is less than 4,000. The so-called "hard-core" membership is less than 1,000.

A decisive majority of them belong to the 15 to 25 age group.

They committed their first acts of violence in 1988. The groups originated primarily in Budapest, but bases were formed also in Szeged, Debrecen and Eger.

In 1990, in Eger and Miskolc, the skinheads had altercations with the Gypsies. The movement reached its apex in 1991 and 1992. (In 1991, for example, in Budapest, criminal proceedings were instituted against 50 persons for crimes of a racial nature.)

Since the beginning of the 1990's, they have congregated around the National Welfare Alliance (Népjóléti Szövetség), which functions as a political party. The party has no chance of winning a seat in [the Hungarian] Parliament.

In the last two years, infringements of legal rights [involving] skinheads have been essentially thrust into the background. This is attributable partly to the resolute actions of the authorities and partly to the fact that crimes motivated by racial discrimination are - because of amendments to the Criminal Code - resulting in more severe penalties.

2. a)Beginning in 1995, the police established relations - from the national level to the local police district level - with the elected (self-governing) organizations of the Romany minority and with other advocacy and legal-aid organizations.

The police chiefs and the Gypsy leaders hold discussions at least once every year concerning the development of relations and concerning issues to be solved. The police organs designated organizational units or persons responsible for maintaining ongoing relations. The forms of cooperation and its principal results are as follows:

- Representatives from the National Police Headquarters and the National Gypsy Minority Self-governing Body and also from the legal-aid organizations formed an operational analysis group whose task is to explore possibilities for improving the legality of criminal proceedings and to make recommendations for their implementation.

At the initiative of the Gypsy organizations, the director of the National Police Headquarters in 1996 prohibited the use in police communications of expressions - referring to ethnicity, nationality, ethnic origin or citizenship - that violate standards but were previously not prohibited.

- The minority protection program initiated by the police in Nograd County can be mentioned as an outstanding example of regional cooperation. Its objective is the development of a relationship free from prejudice, in the interest of cooperation, the prevention of conflicts and the joint solution of problems.

- The Ministry of the Interior has commissioned sociological assessments and scientific studies for the purpose of determining whether prejudice exists and if it does, what feeds it, and what measures must be taken in the interest of making police activity free from prejudice.

- The most important lesson learned is that police officers must be trained in how to treat minorities, that the instruction with respect to human rights and minority rights necessary for this must be intensified, and that materials and a methodology for instruction in the history, culture, lifestyle and customs of the Gypsies must be developed with the participation of Romany intellectuals.

The first steps have already been taken.

- At the Budapest Police Vocational Secondary School, since the 1996/97 academic year, the level of tolerance of the candidates toward differentness has been examined as part of the entrance [screening] procedure.

- At the academy for senior police officers, a special program of Romany studies has been instituted.

- The first comprehensive portion of the instructional materials - for use at the academy and at the vocational secondary school - related to the handling by police of minority matters, a collection of texts containing also the views of civil organizations has been prepared.

- We have established relations also with internationally known organizations that deal with the handling by police of minority matters. In 1998, with the assistance of the American government, the American foundation PER (Project on Ethnic Relations) will begin the training of police chiefs and instructors in accordance with the philosophy of community-centred policing. The Partners Hungary Foundation participated in the solving of several conflict situations and in the program to promote cooperation between police chiefs and Gypsy leaders.

- The police have established various forms of assistance in the interest of replenishing their ranks with an ever wider range of young people of Gypsy origin.

In this way, since the 1996/97 academic year, the National Police Headquarters has announced scholarship competitions on an experimental basis in four counties for disadvantaged young people of Gypsy origin to provide assistance in their secondary-school studies. This means every term a 25,000 [forint] clothing subsidy, coverage of tuition or meal expenses, reimbursement of the cost of textbooks and a scholarship, in exchange for which the youth is expected to attend police school after completion of secondary school.

Likewise, since the 1996/97 academic year, significant material assistance with a study contract has been provided to police officers who declare themselves to be of Gypsy origin for university training in law.

- The Ministry of the Interior and the National Police Headquarters take great care in the investigation of infringements of legal rights committed by police officers. In 1996, the Disciplinary Section of the National Police Headquarters, within the scope of monitoring objectives, examined police conduct that infringed legal rights in connection with members of the Romany minority in police organizations where in the greatest number of cases they lodged reports against police officers.

The monitoring did not encounter any negative phenomenon that can be considered generalized, and it could not be established that the police officers reported would apply illegal methods or means more often in dealing with members of the Romany minority than they would in dealing with non-Romanies. Beginning in 1998 - the Office of the Chief Public Prosecutor using the evaluations of the parliamentary commissioners and the civil organizations - the examination will be conducted every year by the Supervisory and Control Branch of the Ministry of the Interior and the Disciplinary Section of the National Police Headquarters.

b) It is not possible to speak of police violence toward the Romany minority in general, because in Hungary no records are maintained concerning racial origin with respect either to those who commit the crimes or to the aggrieved parties, and on the basis of the principle of free choice of identity, only persons who declare themselves to be Gypsy or of any other nationality can be legally classified as such.

On the basis of the above as well, we do not have at our disposal data concerning how many of the crimes committed by police officers were committed against members of the Gypsy minority.

According to statistics published by the Office of the Chief Public Prosecutor concerning the commission of crimes by the police, it can be established that during the past five years the number of police officers who committed crimes in the course of their duties constituted between 195 and 295. In 1997, of the total number of police officers who committed crimes in the course of their duties, 112 were convicted of breach of trust, 100 of assault occurring during the exercise of their official duties, 52 of coercive questioning and 31 for unlawful detention. The number of known police offenders, except for [those convicted of] the crime of assault occurring during the exercise of [their] official duties, has increased in comparison with the data for 1996.

It is possible to obtain information concerning infringements of legal rights committed by the police against members of the Gypsy minority from the proceedings of the ombudsman for minorities.

- From the establishment of the office of the parliamentary commissioner for national and ethnic minority rights - according to data contained in report before Parliament in 1997 - 51 cases out of 432 complaints received from September 1, 1995, until December 31, 1996, involved the police. (Members of the Gypsy minority accounted on average for 68% of the reports.)

A publication containing observations made between June 1 and August 20, 1995, by Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, among the non-government organs that deal with the protection of human rights, mentions cases in which police officers behaved toward Romanies in a way that infringed [their] legal rights. For example, in …Örkény [Hungary], [in]1993. (The office of the attorney general of the county discontinued the investigation against the police officers, whereas proceedings were instituted against eight Romanies, of whom six were sentenced to prison terms in [a court of] second instance as well.) The National and Ethnic Minority Legal-aid Office (NEKI) protested the decision and announced that it would bring the case before the Supreme Court.)

The so-called White Books published every year by the National and Ethnic Minority Legal-aid Office present specific cases and the proceedings related to them. For example, in the "Benzidine Case" in ƒrsekvadkert [Hungary], the Investigation Office of the Office of the Public Prosecutor of Nograd County discontinued the proceedings - instituted because of coercive questioning and other crimes - because no crime was committed, and the Office of the Public Prosecutor of the City of Salgótarján [Hungary] dismissed as unfounded a complaint lodged by counsel against the decision at first instance. The National and Ethnic Minority Legal-aid Office referred the case to the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.