Local activists of HCLU (Hungarian Civil Liberties Union) - who operate legal aid service points – have reported numerous times that the poorest people were penalized for petty crimes with massive fines.
The defendant of this case tried to travel on the bus from Farkaslyuk to Ózd (cities in Hungary) using his brother’s bus pass. He had no money to buy a pass, which is why he took his brother’s.
He was caught, and the police were called. Because he had all the personal documents of his brother on him (4 documents in total), he committed a crime: he was charged with defrauding documents. He has been fined 250.000 HUF (~1000€), which he obviously cannot pay, since he travelled without a pass, because he had no money. He will be jailed – and it will cost 900.000 HUF (~3500€) for taxpayers.
Although the Court has considered the perpetrator’s circumstances and applied the lowest penalty rate (it must be noted here, that Court had the opportunity to impose a penalty of 30 days instead of the above 100 days, and could also have imposed public service work on him as the punishment), it is such a sum that he will not be able to pay, and so he will be jailed for 100 days.
The defendant brought the warrant too late (which was delivered without any hearings) to the legal aid service point of HCLU (HCLUpoint of Farkaslyuk city), thus there was no possibility for legal redress any more.
So in this case the punishment won’t return the caused loss, it will cause an even greater loss for the whole society instead, since the punishment will be imprisonment.
4500 passes could be purchased for the line that passes between Farkaslyuk and Ózd for the amount of money spent on having him imprisoned.
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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.
The man who spoke to the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) representative had a bike with all the necessary accessories, yet the police still fined him. It seems that the general mandate of KRESZ (rules of the road) leaves room for policemen to, by all means, punish those who they choose to punish.
We have started a series, titled ‘To serve and beat’ on the topic of police aggression. TASZ (Hungarian Civil Liberties Union) has been running its Roma Programme centred on the issue of police brutality for seven months in the counties of Borsod and Heves in Hungary. We have received numerous complaints of police maltreatment during this period. In some towns, local policemen abuse their power daily; they I.D. and penalize people based on their Roma origin. Their behavior often ends in violence. People living in abject poverty have no options: even if they are aware of their rights, they cannot, or fear to exercise them. They are afraid to file formal complaints. And even when they do, the counsel generally refuses to investigate.