The Hungarian government should thoroughly investigate racially motivated violent attacks against Roma and provide the victims with access to justice, Amnesty International has said in a new report published today. 
Violent attacks against Roma in Hungary shows how racially motivated crimes impact on individual victims, communities and society as a whole. It also shows how shortcomings in the Hungarian justice system hinder the prevention of and response to such attacks. Between January 2008 and August 2009 Roma in Hungary were subjected to a series of Molotov cocktail attacks and shootings in which six people died. Among the victims were a couple in their forties, an elderly man, a father and his four-year-old boy, and a single mother with a 13-year-old daughter. “The Hungarian authorities have a duty to prevent discrimination and to ensure justice for victims of hate crimes. This includes the obligation to investigate whether or not racial and ethnic hatred or prejudice played a role in these and any similar attacks,” said Nicola Duckworth, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director for Amnesty International. “By combating racism and racial violence, the authorities will send an important message that diversity should not be perceived as a threat. They must sent a clear message that racism will not be tolerated.” Hungarian law criminalizes incitement of hatred and racist crimes. However, the number of indictments and convictions on charges of racially motivated attacks appears low when compared to the number of reports of such attacks collated by NGOs. Hungarian police said that there were 12 racially motivated attacks on Roma communities in 2008 and six in 2009. However NGOs recorded 25 racially motivated attacks in 2009 and 17 attacks in 2008.This gap is attributed to the under reporting of hate crimes by victims often because of fear or by the failure of the police and prosecutors to take into account the racist motive of offences.  Many of the Roma victims interviewed by Amnesty International were traumatised and not aware of the support services or how to access them. “The failure to record, investigate, prosecute, punish racially motivated crimes and provide remedies for the victims is letting down the Romani community in Hungary,” Nicola Duckworth said. “The government is obliged under international law to combat discrimination and a key part of that is collating information on the existence and extent of hate crimes.”Amnesty International called on the Hungarian authorities to:

  • Ensure that members of the Romani community, as well as members of other vulnerable groups are protected from violence;
  • Ensure that police officers and prosecutors receive training on the nature of hate crimes and the role of police in combating them;
  • Work with Roma self-governments, NGOs and human rights organizations to encourage Roma to report hate crimes and ensure that the victims have access to redress, including access to justice, rehabilitation and compensation.

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