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Human Rights Court: Hungary’s Prisons Inhumanely Overcrowded

Tamás Székely 2015.03.10.

The European Court of Human Rights said that Hungary needs to take measures against widespread overcrowding in the country’s prisons. In their chamber judgment in the case of Varga and Others v. Hungary the human rights judges of the Strasbourg court held, unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights, and a violation of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) read in conjunction with Article 3 of the convention.

The applicants, Lajos Varga, Tamás Zsolt Lakatos, Gábor Tóth, László Pesti, Attila Fakó and Gábor Kapczár, are Hungarian nationals who, at the time their applications were introduced they were detained in prisons in Baracska, Szolnok, Budapest, Sopronkőhida, Pálhalma and Szeged, respectively. The six applicants have been detained in various periods between 2006 and the present day in a number of different Hungarian detention facilities with personal living space in their cells varying between 1.5 to 3.3 square metres. The Court held that Hungary was to pay compensation to each applicants between EUR 3,400 and 26,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage.

The court also found that the domestic remedies in Hungarian law suggested by the government to complain about detention conditions, although accessible, were ineffective in practice. It therefore held that the Hungarian authorities should produce a timeframe, within six months of the date of this judgment becoming final, for putting in place an effective remedy or combination of remedies, both preventive and compensatory, to guarantee genuinely effective redress for violations of the European Convention originating in prison overcrowding.

via humanrightseurope.org, index.hu and hudoc.echr.coe.int; photo: public domain