The police force, including its structure, training and programs regarding minorities, including Roma recruitment programs [HUN103825.E]

7 October 2011
Hungary: The police force, including its structure, training and programs regarding minorities, including Roma recruitment programs
Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa
Police Structure
According to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), a regional security organization and forum for political negotiations related to conflict and security (OSCE n.d.), the tasks of the Hungarian Police are "the protection of public order and public security, the protection of the state border, the control of the border traffic an[d] the maintenance of the order of the state border" (OSCE 4 Sept. 2009). The OSCE lists four General Directorates that make up the National Police Headquarters: Criminal Investigation, Law Enforcement, Economic Affairs, and the Dignitary Protection Service (ibid.).
On its website, the Hungarian National Police includes the following information concerning its structure:
The Police is comprised of a central unit, county (metropolitan) police headquarters, police stations and border police stations. Organizational units established to deal with specific priority tasks are the Dignitary Protection Service, the National Bureau of Investigation, the Rapid Response Police Unit and the Airport Police Directorate.
The National Police Headquarters (ORFK) is the central unit of the Police, which has a nationwide jurisdiction and competence, is considered an independent legal entity and contains separate functional units.
County (metropolitan) police headquarters with separate jurisdiction and competence are under the direct supervision of the ORFK. Within their framework, the local units of the Police with separate tasks (police stations and border police stations) operate, too. Further important elements of the organization are the police precincts that are under the supervision of police stations and police headquarters. These do not have separate jurisdiction and competence. (Hungary 15 Dec. 2010)
In correspondence with the Research Directorate, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC), a non-profit organization monitoring human rights in Hungary, noted that there are regional police headquarters in each county, as well as in the capital, and that "each county operates urban and district headquarters … and in smaller settlements, patrols … or single local officers" (HHC 15 Sept. 2011).
The HHC report indicates that the Minister of the Interior "has the authority to regulate the activities and the operation of the police" and is supervisor of the National Police Headquarters, the Internal Crime Prevention and Investigation Unit, as well as the Counter Terrorism Center (ibid.). The National Police Chief and the head of the Counter Terrorism Center are appointed by the Prime Minister, while the rest of the police chiefs are appointed by the Minister of the Interior (ibid.).
According to HHC, the Chief of the National Police "directly leads the National Police Headquarters and … may issue orders to any police unit under the Headquarters," with the exception of the Internal Crime Prevention and Investigation Unit and the Counter Terrorism Center (ibid.). The ORFK also direct regional and subordinate police units, "set the operational guidelines," and are in charge of employment (ibid.). The National Police Chief is assisted by the head of the Guard of the Republic, and also has three deputies that are in charge of directorates incorporating the majority of police departments, including four specialized territorial departments, and one specialized and seven regional financial directorates, with the exception of legal, strategic and communication departments (ibid.). Human resources and internal affairs are headed by the Police Chief (ibid.).
For more detailed information on the structure of the Hungarian National Police, please refer to the attachment to this Response.
At the annual meeting of "assessment and task setting" for the police on 25 February 2011, the Minister of the Interior stated that in 2011 the goal is to "'achieve a much better state of public order and security in small settlements'" (Hungary 25 Feb. 2011). In 2011, the number of police officers will be increased by some 2,000 officers, with most of them going to serve in small settlements (ibid.).
Minorities and the police
In a resolution adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe regarding the implementation of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities for Hungary, it is noted that the Hungarian
authorities have made efforts to curtail abuse by the police by increasing the recruitment of Roma police officers, providing training in human rights and setting up, in 2008, the Independent Police Complaint Committee (IPCC) responsible for receiving complaints against misbehaviour of the police. (Council of Europe 6 July 2011)
However, according to the resolution "[r]acially motivated abuse allegedly committed by members of the police force continues to be reported. Discriminatory behaviour on the part of the police seems to be, in general, a problem" (ibid.).
Published in the European Ombudsmen Newsletter, an article by the Hungarian Parliamentary Commissioner for the Rights of National and Ethnic Minorities, also referred to as the Minority Ombudsman, indicated that in 2008 he conducted "a comprehensive investigation of the police bodies" that focused on "how this huge divided organisation which is of particular importance for adherence to fundamental rights can become tolerant and capable of accepting minorities and otherness and of protecting minority rights effectively" (Hungary 24 May 2011). One issue mentioned is that a "very low" number of people who are detained actually interact with the police in the minority language of their choice (ibid.). This may be partly due to the lack of knowledge on the part of police employees of the provisions of the Minorities Act (ibid.).
In recommendations to the Hungarian authorities, Human Rights First, a New York-based international human rights non-governmental organization (NGO) (Human Rights First N.d.), states that "law enforcement authorities should consider making concerted efforts to include more Hungarians of Roma origin into police units" (ibid. 23 Feb. 2010).
Similarly, the Minority Ombudsman sent the following recommendations regarding changes to the police force to the National Police Commander, the Minister of Justice and Law Enforcement, and the Prime Minister: "developing and implementing a substantial [human resources], career and training plan against gender and racial stereotypes in terms of admissions to the police force and promotion," development of "[h]igh level communication skills" and regular press relations (Hungary 24 May 2011). The police commander responded that "implementation" of most of the recommendations is already in progress or planned for the future; however, he "rejected the proposal of the Ombudsman concerning the selection and training of staff and spokespeople of ethnic background" (ibid.). Furthermore, the police commander "did not react substantially" to the suggestion to introduce "attitude checks" which would "filter out (potential) staff with extremist, racist views in terms of recruiting police staff" (ibid.).
According to the Amnesty International (AI) submission for 2011 to the United Nations (UN) Universal Periodic Review, there are no specific police procedures used in cases "in which there is an indication that the crime under investigation is motivated by hatred" (AI Nov. 2010). The AI report also notes that a representative of Pest County Police stated that "an investigation into possible hate crimes does not require a specific approach and does not differ from an investigation of any other crime" (ibid.).
Police minority training
The AI submission states that "curricula at the Police Academy and medium-level in-service police training currently include subjects related to human rights and tolerance" (ibid.). According to the Ombudsman for minority rights, in his investigation into Roma-police relations, at police high schools and the Police College the subject of human rights and discrimination is part of some lectures in the legal studies for police students (Hungary 19 Sept. 2011). He further notes that, in police studies, issues such as the Roma community, segregation, language, racism and social inequality are considered "marginal" (ibid.). According to the Ombudsman, sociological surveys of police students "confirmed a high level of prejudices" (ibid.).
The HHC reported that "[a]ccording to the list of classes of the Police College there is no training at all concerning minorities, conflict management, non-violent crime resolution, mediation or intercultural skills, etc. Nevertheless some classes dealing partially with these topics may exist" (HHC 15 Sept. 2011).
According to HHC, in June 2011, there was a two-day workshop in Budapest on how to interact with ethnic minorities, organized by several foreign embassies and attended by members of the Police College and law enforcement vocational schools (ibid.). There have been no programs implemented by the Minister of the Interior or the National Police since the workshop (ibid.).
However, according to a report submitted by the Hungarian government to the UN Universal Periodic Review, "[p]olice staff has been receiving thorough training to handle racist prejudices and to learn how to communicate effectively with victims and suspects belonging to minorities," but also acknowledges that these training efforts are "not yet sufficient" (Hungary 16 Feb. 2011, para. 69). The government reports that, because of this, a "new law enforcement protocol" is being developed by the Ministry of the Interior with the help of the Police College, for "handling racist and/or racism-motivated crimes;" this project also includes the "review" of the "police training courses on racism and prejudice," which will allow for any improvements, if they are deemed "necessary" (ibid.).
In correspondence with the Research Directorate, the Vice President of the Phralipe Independent Roma Association, an organization that assists the victims of hate attacks, as well as building and renovating Roma housing, stated that police departments throughout Europe are working together to create protocols for how to deal with minorities, however, they are "rarely" applied (15 Sept. 2011).
According to AI, "[t]he lack of guidelines and training on hate crimes has been raised consistently by Hungarian NGOs" (AI Nov. 2010). Furthermore, AI points out that cases documented by NGOs showing instances where authorities failed to take into account biased motivations based on "hatred" show that
officials often fail to recognize racial motivation in crimes, despite it being highly likely that the perpetrators attacked the victims because of their ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation, or that the police would not initially characterize the crimes as motivated by hatred and would only investigate a possible hate motivation after being pressured to do so by NGOs. (ibid.)
Roma Police Recruitment
The Ombudsman for minority rights indicated that Roma in the police force are "invisible," as they "cannot declare their Roma origin," and ethnic data collection and publication are prohibited (Hungary 19 Sept. 2011).
According to the Vice President of the Phralipe Independent Roma Association, recruitment efforts for Roma police officers are made in schools announcing available employment for college graduates; however, the number of Roma applicants accepted into the police force was "very small" (15 Sept. 2011).
The Ombudsman for minority rights noted that even though there is a campaign to recruit Roma youth into the police, an investigation into Roma-police relations concluded that there are "structural shortages" of the police force program that determines acceptance into the police force when it comes to Roma police candidates (Hungary 19 Sept. 2011). The Ombudsman further noted that there are prejudices against Roma within the police that still exist today and will continue without "structural reforms" to the police force (ibid.).
Commenting on why results from police recruitment efforts cannot be seen, the Ombudsman for minority rights provided several restricting requirements for Roma individuals (Hungary 19 Sept. 2011). For example, entry conditions for the police force are fairly restrictive because the police force requires a clean criminal record from the applicant and every member of their family that lives with them (ibid.). This can be problematic for Roma because their households usually include more than two generations and are extended, with any conflict between extended family and the law able to prevent "talented pupils" from entry into police training (ibid.). Other restrictive conditions that are problematic for Roma include a security check and a completion of secondary school exams (ibid.). The minority Ombudsman also commented on the homogeneity of the police, which represents "mainstream society," and has below average rates of representation by women, disabled individuals and minorities; it also does not allow foreigners or people with dual citizenship to apply (ibid.).
Programs for Roma police
The Ombudsman for minority rights indicated that the National Police Headquarters from "time to time passes action plans on better co-operation with the Roma community" (Hungary 19 Sept. 2011). The initiatives include providing grants, numbering from ten to fifteen, for "talented Roma pupils," as well as "a set of county co-operation contracts with local communities, Roma self-governments," and "children and school programs" which, for example, organize public days for informing the public and Roma about law enforcement (ibid.).
The HHC is of the opinion that when it comes to programs for Roma to become involved with the Police, "the number of [a]ffected Roma people is extremely low, [and] the intensity and effectiveness of the programs are questionable" (HHC 15 Sept. 2011).
However, the HHC also indicated that, based on their research on Roma-police relations, one of the main goals of the police is to recruit Roma youth into the police force (ibid.). One way for the police to do this was to issue a "call for proposals" for Roma high school students, with the program allowing for selected Roma students to receive a monthly scholarship that varies between 11 and 22 US dollars, based on "their achievement at school" (ibid.).
In its Third Report submitted to the Council of Europe in 2009 concerning the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, the government of Hungary noted that a scholarship program for "talented Roma secondary school students" pursuing police careers has been active since 2000, sponsored by the Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Justice, and the ORFK (Hungary 4 June 2009).
The Vice President of the Phralipe Independent Roma Association indicated that to her knowledge, scholarship programs for police schools cover only half the year, and then it becomes a "question [of] who is able to remain in the police school" (15 Sept. 2011).
The Ministry of the Interior reported that on 28 March 2011 "the Budapest Police Headquarters (BRFK) held an open day for the Roma-Gypsy under-privileged youth, who are interested in police career," which included presentations by employees from the BRFK's Department for Crime Prevention and representatives of secondary vocational schools for Police (Hungary 28 Mar. 2011). This day was organized with the help of Budapest's Gypsy Self-government, whose Chair "underlined the importance of the cooperation with the police" (ibid.). Corroborating this information, the Ombudsman indicated that on 28 March 2011 the Capital Police Station, along with the Crime Prevention Department and the Capital Roma self-government, organized "a public day for pupils to present the operation of law enforcement" (Hungary 19 Sept. 2011). The Ministry of the Interior also announced in March 2011 that there would be a police "preparatory camp" for Roma applicants in July 2011 (Hungary 28 Mar. 2011).
The HHC report notes that annual summer camps are often organized by regional police for young children coming from a "poor" environment (15 Sept. 2011). There is also an annual summer camp for Roma high school students lasting for five days in which they learn about law enforcement and requirements to enter the Police College (HHC 15 Sept. 2011). Forty students attended the camp in 2011 (HHC 15 Sept. 2011).
In 2004, the Ministry of the Interior began to organize
law enforcement career orientation camps for Roma secondary school students. The five-day camp acquainted the 40 young students with the work of the secondary and tertiary institutions of law enforcement education and the experiences of professional Roma police officers. The success of the initiative is confirmed by the fact that in the 2005/2006 school year 20 young Roma started their studies in secondary law enforcement schools, 2 persons were enrolled in the Police College and 8 young people were enrolled in other higher education institutions. (Hungary 4 June 2009)
The Ombudsman also notes that the Fraternal Association of European Roma Law Enforcement Officers (FAERLEO) organizes an annual program for Roma youth, which lasts a week, and introduces them to careers in law enforcement, with the one in July 2011 being the eighth one to take place (Hungary 19 Sept. 2011).
According to the HHC, the Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok County Police Headquarters has implemented a project financed by the European Social Fund, which involves the employment of one Roma by the county headquarters for one year (HHC 15 Sept. 2011).
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 for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
Amnesty International (AI). 8 November 2010. Hungary: Violent Attacks Against Roma. Amnesty International Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review, May 2011. (EUR 27/003/2010) [Accessed 5 Aug. 2011]
Council of Europe. 6 July 2011. Committee of Ministers. Resolution CM/ResCMN(2011)13 on the Implementation of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities by Hungary. [Accessed 2 Sept. 2011]
Human Rights First. 23 February 2010. Joelle Fiss. "Roma Citizens Remain at Risk in Hungary, Reforms Needed." (The Huffington Post) [Accessed 18 Aug. 2011]
_____. N.d. "About Us." [Accessed 21 Sept. 2011]
Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC). 15 September 2011. Correspondence from a representative to the Research Directorate.
Hungary. 19 September 2011. Correspondence from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Rights of National and Ethnic Minorities to the Research Directorate.
_____. 24 May 2011. Parliamentary Commissioner for the Rights of National and Ethnic Minorities. "Comprehensive Police Investigation of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Rights of National and Ethnic Minorities." [Accessed 3 Aug. 2011]
_____. 28 March 2011. Ministry of the Interior. "The Aim is the Variegated Police's Creation." [Accessed 23 Aug. 2011]
_____. 25 February 2011. Ministry of the Interior. "Sándor Pintér: We Would Like to Have Another Type of Police." [Accessed 23 Aug. 2011]
_____. 16 February 2011. National Report Submitted in Accordance with Paragraph 15 (a) of the Annex to Human Rights Council Resolution 5/1: Hungary. (A/HRC/WG.6/11/HUN/1) [Accessed 1 Sept. 2011]
_____. 15 December 2010. Hungarian National Police. "Structure of the Organization." [Accessed 25 Aug. 2011]
_____. 4 June 2009. Third Report Submitted by Hungary Pursuant to Article 25, Paragraph 1 of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. (ACFC/SR/III(2009)007) [Accessed 18 Aug. 2011]
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). 4 September 2009. Policing OnLine Information System (POLIS). "Hungary." [Accessed 5 Aug. 2011]
_____. N.d. "Who We Are." [Accessed 21 Sept. 2011]
Phralipe Independent Roma Association. 15 September 2011. Correspondence from the Vice President to the Research Directorate.
Additional Sources Consulted
Oral sources: European Roma Information Office, European Roma Rights Centre, European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, Hungarian Foundation for Self-Reliance and Romedia Foundation were unable to provide information for this Response. Equal Treatment Authority, Fraternal Association of European Roma Law Enforcement Officers, Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, Hungarian National Police, Legal Defence Bureau for National and Ethnic Minorities, International Police Association, Ministry of the Interior and Open Society Foundation did not reply within the time constraints of this Response.
Internet sites, including: Budapest Business Journal; Budapest Sun; Budapest Times; EIN News; European Country of Origin Information Network; European Police College; European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights; Factiva; Hungary - Equal Treatment Authority, Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Justice, Legal Defence Bureau for National and Ethnic Minorities; Minority Rights Group International; United Nations - Integrated Regional Information Networks, Refworld.
Hungary. 17 July 2011. National Police Headquarters. A Magyar Köztársaság Rendorsége szervezeti ábrája. Translated by the Translation Bureau, Public Works and Government Services Canada. [Accessed 26 Sept. 2011]