New Police Instruction in Hungary May Violate Rights for Roma

31 January 2012

Budapest, 31 January 2012: The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) sent a letter today to Hungarian authorities, expressing concern about a recent instruction to police which could lead to rights violations of Romani communities.

The Instruction on Police Enforcement in Multicultural Environments implicitly targets Roma, who are the largest ethnic minority group in Hungary. Although the ERRC welcomes any intention from the police to work constructively in multicultural environments, some aspects of the guidelines are unclear, and we are concerned this could lead to stereotyping and further discrimination.

In particular, the instruction uses vague and prejudiced language which is open to a number of interpretations.

For example it refers to groups having different behavioural norms and different values and that are considered ‘deviant’ by the majority. The instruction asks the police to “pay attention” to communities from different cultural backgrounds and to “monitor the relationship between the majority and the communities with different cultural backgrounds.” The form of the ‘monitoring’ is not specified, and could lead to the harassment of Roma.

The ERRC is concerned that guidelines on monitoring may violate individual rights which are guaranteed under the Hungarian Constitution, including the right to the protection of private and family life, home, relations and good reputation. All the new provisions may conflict with the principal of equal treatment.

The ERRC is calling on the Chief of Police and Ministry of the Interior to clarify the language they are using and to monitor the implementation of the instruction to ensure that Romani communities are not unfairly targeted.

For further information:

Sinan Gokçen
ERRC Media and Communications Officer


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