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Participation in the research of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee

2015. 07. 03.


The Hungarian Helsinki Committee conducted a research, entitled: „Last Among Equals – The equality before the law of vulnerable groups in the criminal justice system”.

The project’s objective was to examine whether in its present form the Hungarian justice system guarantees the equality before the law of Roma and non-Roma defendants. Based on the criminal case files, the penitentiary documentation, the inmates’ own experience and the penitentiary staffs’ opinion the main question of the research was : whether inmantes experience any difference based on ethnicity? Even though the research focused mainly on Roma defendants, it was also examined whether the defendants’ certain socio-demographic characteristics, including their gender, age or educational background, have any significance regarding the decisions of and within the penitentiary system.

In the framework of the project Dora Szegő, researcher of Foresee Research Group carried out focus-group discussions with the anonymous and voluntary participation of penitentiary staff members in three prisons. Not only discussed concrete decisions made by the personnel, but also asked the participants about their attitudes regarding certain groups of detainees.

As a next step, on 26 March 2014 Helsinki discussed the first draft of the research report at a conference, where the representatives of all stakeholders – including the National Penitentiary Headquarters, the Curia and the National Police Headquarters – had the chance to express their views on the research results and the conclusions.

The final research report, finalised on the basis of the comments made by the participants of the conference and containing also the results of the focus group discussions, is available here in English and in Hungarian.

The project was supported by the Open Society Foundations.

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