Court: Hungarian authorities failed to protect Roma against racist abuse during anti-Roma demo

Human rights judges ruled today that Hungarian authorities failed to protect Roma against racist abuse during anti-Roma demonstration.

In its Chamber judgment in the case of Király and Dömötör v. Hungary (application no. 10851/13) the European Court of Human Rights held, by five votes to two, that there had been:

a violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case concerned an anti-Roma demonstration. Király and Dömötör – both of whom are of Roma origin – alleged that the police had failed to protect them from racist abuse during the demonstration and to properly investigate the incident.

Article 41 (just satisfaction)

The court held, by five votes to two, that Hungary was to pay the applicants EUR 7,500 each in respect of non-pecuniary damage, and EUR 3,205 to Király and EUR 3,235 to Dömötör for costs and expenses.

The court found in particular that the authorities’ investigations into the incident had been limited. Namely, one of the investigations – concerning the speeches made during the demonstration – had not taken into account the specific context of the abuse and another – concerning the offence of violence against a group – had been slow and limited to acts of physical violence.

The investigations had not therefore established the true and complex nature of the events. The cumulative effect of these shortcomings had meant that an openly racist demonstration, with sporadic acts of violence, had remained virtually without legal consequences.

Indeed, the applicants’ psychological integrity had not been effectively protected against what had amounted to nothing less than organised intimidation of the Roma community, by means of a paramilitary parade, verbal threats and speeches advocating a policy of racial segregation.

The court was concerned that this could be perceived by the public as the State’s legitimisation and/or tolerance of such behaviour.

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