I am afraid to speak up

Roma travelling by bicycle in Kesznyéten are systematically fined for trivialities and receive disproportionate fines for minor offences. When our film crew visited Kesznyéten, they interviewed non-Roma cyclists as well. Out of these randomly chosen 10 individuals there was only one person who had received a fine for a cycling offence. Even though on average (as seen in the accompanying video), their bicycles were not in better condition or better equipped. Still, the Non-Roma travelling by bicycle are not even stopped by the police.

You can turn on the English subtitles by starting the video and then clicking on the "cc" button

It appears that not only does the police issue fines for offences based on ethnicity, those who receive the fines are often not informed of why they got the fine. Even when there is a basis for the fine, the scale of the fine is disproportionate to the offence. In the case of a trivial offence, such as an individual releasing the handlebar with one hand on his/her bicycle for a second, the police has a right - if there is at all reason to believe the action is “dangerous to society” (this is a requirement for determining an offence)- to only give a warning to the cyclist. Instead, they hand out 5-10-20 thousand forint fines.

In specific cases it is almost impossible to prove the unlawfulness of the actions of the police, because the police have broadly defined decision-making rights. It is also impossible to prove the systematic ethnically discriminatory behavior of the police in individual cases. These procedures create a full picture of unequal treatment and discrimination when treated as a whole and can thus be considered unlawful.

Kesznyéten is just another example of the attitude of the police that can be seen in many settlements of Borsod and Heves.

Eszter Jovánovics and Melinda Zsolt


Kapcsolódó hírek

“He even kicked the bike”

We have presented similar stories on our blog many times. So it was not a one-time occurence, that’s for sure. At least not in Heves or Borsod county. What we’re talking about here, is that some policemen take pleasure in fining very poor people, who are mostly Romas, for breaking bicycle rules, all the time. Who they fine and how much they fine them for depends on the policeman’s discrimination and mood, rather than the bicycle laws. The man in this video lives in Eger.

'A poor man is pulled even by the branch of a tree'

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 HCLU's movies shared a Special Award at the Hégető Honorka Prize ceremony

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.