In Borsod county in Hungary, Romas (who live in poverty and segregation) on bicycles are fined daily for motoring offences. They are regularly penalized for offences that they haven’t committed, alongside fines for petty offences, such as lack of lamps in broad daylight. The imposed fines are disproportionately high, and extremely difficult to repay. Due to the lack of information, the capacity for legal redress is very low in these peripheral communities. The word of a Roma man against a policeman’s is generally not taken seriously in these courts; penalized people are not able to defend themselves against such infringements on their rights. Does it make sense for the police force to spend tax-payers’ money and allocate its own resources for an undue and unnecessary penalization activity? Is it beneficial for our society to unduly penalize and criminalize the already underprivileged?
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Most people hardly hear or know anything about the living conditions and everyday concerns of the Roma population living in extreme poverty, often in segregated settlements.
During their visits in North-Eastern Hungary, our colleagues interview locals about the issues they are currently most concerned with. The aim of our new series entitled “Make Your Voice Seen” is to deliver the messages of these people to a broader public.
Around Ózd County, clubs usually don’t let any Roma in, which seriously violates equal treatment, and is thus illegal. In the summer of 2009, in Borsodnádas, a new club, which was supposed to be accessible to everyone, opened up.
I wonder how many cyclists are stopped in a wealthy neighborhood of a bigger city each year due to worn out tires, missing winter tires, missing reflector, or because of a disconnected brake cable? All of us who use such vehicles commit similar petty offenses. The lives of Borsod county’s (Hungary) Roma people – who live in poverty - are embittered by the police. They periodically give unnecessarily harsh fines of 10,20,30 thousand HUF (approximately 40,80,120 €).
The aim of the Prize is to acknowledge television and online video works aimed at highlighting the problems of marginalised groups, and raising public and media awareness. It is a big honour for us to be awarded this prize in 2013.