Policing & Society Volume: 10 Issue: 1 Dated: April 2000 Pages: 91-106
This article describes the relationship between the police and the minority Roma community in Hungary.
There is a serious problem of police misconduct against the Roma in Hungary. This problem is attributable to social forces such as the alienation and poverty of the Roma, which has been exacerbated by the country’s transition to democracy. Neither politicians nor police leaders have developed sufficient mechanisms to make the police more accountable. Neither the plenary session nor committees of Parliament have condemned the police for misusing their power against the Roma. The Minority Ombudsman and others have criticized the Prosecution Service for failing to investigate allegations against the police. The courts have not provided the Roma and other Hungarians with an effective vehicle for combating police misconduct. Local governments have limited power to influence policing in their jurisdictions. The police have made limited efforts to improve their system of accountability. Hungarians need reliable information about the causes, nature, and extent of police misconduct against the Roma in order to fight this problem. Studies suggest that racial factors cannot explain all incidents of misconduct. Police leaders could take a number of steps to decrease misconduct. They could repeal laws that preserve totalitarian policing and discriminate against the Roma; remove officers that advocate oppressive tactics; decentralize and demilitarize the police; and strengthen and expand internal and external mechanisms of accountability. The police have taken steps to improve hiring and screening procedures, established scholarships for talented Roma to increase representation on the force, and have begun to use psychological tests designed to weed out racist officers. 20 footnotes, 19 references