Top court rules against police in Roma discrimination case
Salgótarján, April 3 (MTI) – The Kúria, Hungary’s supreme court, on Monday ruled that local police in northern Hungary had discriminated against the local Roma community by failing to protect them against harassment by extremist groups.
The Kúria ruled that by failing to protect the Roma population in the village of Gyöngyöspata from abuse in spring 2011, the police themselves had been guilty of harassment against the community, by which they had violated the Roma’s right to equal treatment. The court barred the police department from further such breaches of rights.
The lawsuit in the case was initiated by human rights group Civil Liberties Union (TASZ), which argued that the police had discriminated against the Roma based on ethnic background while extremist groups patrolled the village.
The suit was first heard in 2013 when the legal representative of the Heves County police department asked for the case to be dismissed, arguing that the police had handled the presence of extremist groups in the village “lawfully” and “objectively”. The lawyer called TASZ’s lawsuit “irresponsible” and “biased”, arguing that there had been no legal means for police to address the issue of the extremist groups when they had first started marching across the village.
In 2015, an Eger court ruled that the police had discriminated against the Roma, but did not prohibit further violations of rights. TASZ appealed that ruling.
The second-instance ruling in the case was issued by the Debrecen Court of Appeals in 2016, which threw out the lawsuit, saying that allegations of discrimination against the Roma had been unjustified.
TASZ then filed a request for a review of the ruling, after which the Kúria established that police had discriminated against the Roma in Gyöngyöspata.