The recommendations contained in this report are as always made in a constructive spirit and the CPT looks forward to pursuing its dialogue with the Hungarian authorities in order to improve the situation of foreign nationals deprived of their liberty in Hungary.
The majority of detained foreign nationals interviewed by the delegation stated that they had been treated correctly by police/prison officers and/or armed guards. That said, a considerable number of foreign nationals claimed that they had been subjected to physical ill-treatment by police officers. These allegations concerned mainly slaps and punches to the face or abdomen, as well as baton blows, at the moment of apprehension (even when the persons concerned were allegedly not resisting apprehension or after they had been brought under control), during transfer to a police establishment and/or during subsequent police questioning. It is of particular concern that some of these allegations were made by foreign nationals who claimed to be unaccompanied minors. In addition, a few allegations were received of physical ill-treatment by police officers and/or armed guards working in immigration or asylum detention facilities. Moreover, some allegations were received of verbal abuse and disrespectful behaviour on the part of police officers and armed guards (such as swearing, mocking and spitting at foreign nationals); these allegations concerned all stages of deprivation of liberty.
Particular reference should be made to an incident which occurred at the Nagyfa Prison Unit on 23 October 2015, the first day of the delegation’s visit to the establishment. During the weeks preceding the visit there had apparently been a tense atmosphere, accompanied by an increasing number of instances of self-harming, suicide attempts, destruction of property and hunger-strikes. These tensions escalated on 23 October when a large number of foreign nationals staged a protest by damaging the premises and equipment of the detention unit. At the same time, several of the foreign nationals barricaded themselves in two rooms and threatened to harm themselves or commit suicide if the staff attempted to enter. At the request of the prison management, two special police intervention forces (MEKTO and Bevete’si Osztaly) were called in. The officers remained outside in black riot gear, in buses parked directly in front of the detention unit, in full view of many of the immigration detainees, during the afternoon and early evening. In the late evening, after the delegation had left the establishment, the special intervention forces entered the detention unit. When returning to the establishment the next day, the delegation was informed that, following the police intervention the night before, 29 foreign nationals involved in the protest had been transferred to various other establishments, including several police detention facilities in
Szeged. Approximately two-thirds of them had first been taken to the Detention Facility of Csongrád County Police Headquarters and then to the Detention Facility of the Border Police in Szeged (Moscow street), while the others had immediately been transferred to other places of detention and the airport (for immediate deportation). The delegation was also shown closed circuit television (CCTV) footage of the intervention, which covered certain parts of the Unit and of the outside courtyard. However, the delegation was informed that some of the CCTV cameras were not functioning properly at the time of the intervention and it also became clear that they did not cover the entire premises of the prison unit. One of the ‘blind spots’ was the area where foreign nationals entered the special police buses to be transferred to other police establishments. Subsequently, the delegation went to various police establishments in order to interview those foreign nationals who had been involved in the above-mentioned incident or had witnessed the intervention of the special police forces. In interviews carried out separately, many of the foreign nationals concerned made consistent and detailed allegations of physical ill-treatment by the special police forces. The alleged ill-treatment took the form of violently pushing the heads and faces of inmates against a wall and punching them in the abdomen and face, as well as directing baton blows to the head while the persons concerned were handcuffed behind their backs. Several allegations were also received of excessively tight handcuffing and of persons being lifted by the handcuffs from the ground. The ill-treatment allegedly took place in the yard of the facility, in areas not covered by the CCTV. In addition, many of the foreign nationals who had been transferred after the incident to various police stations (in particular, in Szeged) claimed that they had been ill-treated by local police officers upon arrival at the police establishment (for example, violently pushed against the wall and/or punched in the abdomen and kidneys). It should be noted in this context that some of the foreign nationals interviewed by the delegation displayed injuries which were consistent with the allegations of ill-treatment/excessive use of force made, such as a lacerated wound on the head, pain on palpation of the abdomen and the back of the head and parallel linear-shaped bruises on both wrists.