Strasbourg awards damages to Hungarian victim of police violence

October 12, 2017
Photo: Flickr/Thomas Hawk

A client of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, a human rights NGO, won a case against Hungary at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, on Tuesday when the court decided that the state had failed in its obligation to protect citizens from police assault. The victim, Attila Péter Tarjáni, will receive EUR 7,500 in damages, reports

Tarjáni suffered the police abuse in Orosháza, a city of around 29,000 in Békés county. Tarjáni was interrogated at the local police station, leaving the building with a broken leg, a bleeding nose, missing and loose teeth, and other scratches and bruises. He had to be taken to the hospital. Two medical reports were issued as a result of his hospitalization.

An investigation followed his reports and allegations of assault, but later the prosecutor decided that there was insufficient evidence against the police officers and dropped the investigation. According to Tarjáni, no witness was asked about his physical state before the interrogation. Helsinki Committee took the matter to the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled that the Hungarian state breached “the ‘prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment’ by the lack of fair investigation.” According to the Court, if the state doesn’t fulfill its obligations to investigate every case where torture or abuse might have occurred, that constitutes a breach of the European Convention of Human Rights. Lack of sanctions against abusive authorities encourages abuse, the Court warned, awarding EUR 7,500 (USD 8,870) to the plaintiff for non-pecuniary damage and EUR 3,000 (USD 3,550) for costs and expenses.

Helsinki Committee highlighted that the European Court of Human Rights was the victim’s best chance for justice. In Hungary, out of every 100 reports of police violence, only four result in charges being brought. By contrast, if a police officer accuses someone of assault, charges are filed against the alleged assailant in 69 percent of cases.