Case Studies

Hungary: Violence in immigration detention


In one incident, an Afghan national and recognised refugee, was assaulted by multiple guards, while being held in detention at the Nyírbátor detention centre as an asylum seeker.

In September 2012, following a disturbance prompted by a guard making remarks concerning Islam detainees held a sit-down protest. The guards responded in turn with the use of gas, forcing detainees back into their cells. About half an hour later, three armed security guards appeared in the victim’s cell. They dragged him to a different section of the detention facility, where he was met with the guard who had made the Islamophobic remarks. The group physically attacked the victim, raining blows on his head, side, back and legs. When the beating was finished, he was taken to a ‘separation room’, where he was left crying in pain.

An hour later, his cellmate arrived, and the victim was taken to the Medical service for an examination, which found evidence of the beating including that ‘the imprints of a palm and four fingers are visible on the mid-back skin, which is slightly redder’, as well as ‘bruising of the back’.

“The first medical examination was like a joke”
The victim claims that when he was examined by the medical service, the doctor only examined his upper body, and only very superficially, walking around him once and scribbling something. He was then told to put his shirt back on. The doctor didn’t even ask where it hurt.

The deputy head of the centre filed a criminal complaint a week after the incident against an unknown perpetrator. He informed the prosecutor that he had arranged for the archiving of the internal security camera recordings.

An investigation was launched in October 2012, which lasted until August the following year. The investigation attempted to obtain video footage of the incident, but discovered that it had already been deleted.

Expert medical evidence was produced which found that “for certain injuries of the victim, it can be excluded that they were caused in any other way than by mistreatment.”

However, the investigation was ultimately discontinued as it found that it could not be established that the victim “had actually been mistreated”, and that no further steps could be taken which would lead to the established of a crime beyond reasonable doubt.

The victim made a complaint regarding the investigation, and it was ordered that the case be reopened. However, two months later, the case was once again discontinued, and the wording of the decision corresponded word for word with the original decision.

The victim made further complaints, leading to a third, fourth, and finally a fifth investigation over the course of several years. It made no difference, and on 9 May 2016, nearly four years after the initial incident, the prosecution office dismissed the complaint due to a lack of evidence required for indictment.

The victim’s lawyer submitted an application to the European Court of Human Rights, stating that the investigation was ineffective, and therefore in violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.