Case Studies

Shwan: Forced into silence


In 2017, Shwan was placed in a Hungarian immigration detention centre after feeling Iraq due to persecution of his sexual orientation.

Shwan was exercising in the courtyard of the detention centre when he was told by armed guards to stop running. He indicated to the guards that he understood but continued to exercise. The guards then indicated again that he should stop, but Shwan mirrored their actions back to them. The guards then grabbed him and dragged him down to the basement into an isolation cell where there were no cameras.

Following this incident, he was checked by two nurses, but when the nurses entered the cell, guards also entered the room in an intimidating fashion. According to the medical documentation, “after the examination of his body, he does not have any visible injuries”. Two hours later he was taken by the guards to the doctor of the detention centre. Again, his examination took place in the presence of guards, and again, the medical documentation showed no signs of injury.

In March 2017, Shwan reported having been beaten to the Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC). HHC were able to send a fax to the detention centre to request an interview, and to document the injuries.

An HHC lawyer examined the video evidence of the incident. The video footage cuts out at exactly the point the guards reached the victims, apparently an ‘unlucky coincidence’.

Following an interview with Shwan, a complaint was submitted to the police. A further medical appointment was made, and this time the doctor did find injuries: “his left cheek and his nose are painful”. Again, the guards were present, but this time he was sent by the doctor to an external medical facility.

In the ambulance, the doctor wrote down that the right cheek and right shoulder had contusions. The victim was not given a copy of the medical report, which was written by the doctor.

Later that day, a high-ranking police officer with two stars on his shoulders visited Shwan. He was threatened with removal unless he withdrew his complaint. Shwan became very afraid because he did not want to return to a country he had fled in fear of his life. Shwan withdrew his complaint.