Hungary Condemned by the European Court of Human Rights for Failing to Investigate Racist Attack against a Roma Man

27 October 2015

The European Court of Human Rights delivered a judgment this week condemning Hungary for discrimination resulting from the failure to investigate a racist attack against a Romani man in 2012. The European Roma Rights Centre welcomes the decision.

The applicant, a Romani man from Szeged, represented before the Court by the Legal Defence Bureau for National and Ethnic Minorities (NEKI), was the victim of a racist attack by a man claiming to be a police officer and called him a “dirty gypsy”. The European Roma Rights Centre submitted a third-party intervention in the case designed to assist the Court in making this finding.

Relying on Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) read in conjunction with Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment), Mr Balázs complained that the authorities failed to conduct an effective investigation into the racist attack against him, and in particular that they had not taken sufficient action to establish a possible racist motive for the assault.

The ERRC urged the Court explicitly to acknowledge the phenomenon of anti-Gypsyism, and to acknowledge that the problem of racist violence against Roma is recognised at European level as an expression of anti-Gypsyism. The ERRC also urged the Court to integrate the notion of institutional anti-Gypsyism into its analysis of whether there has been a violation of Article 14 taken with the procedural limb of Article 2 or 3 in cases concerning violence against Roma.

The Court in its judgment agreed and stressed that “a vigorous investigation” is required into allegations of racist violence against Roma. The Hungarian authorities had failed to do so, making them liable for discrimination.

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Szelim Simándi


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