Independent Police Complaints Board

The Independent Police Complaints Board was established and initiated its activity in 2008. The idea of establishing an independent body that would monitor the work of the Police (monitoring whether its conduct is in compliance with the criteria of the rule of law), came up earlier, inter alia in the proposals and recommendations of different NGOs. The existence of such a Board is not unique among other European countries, but the importance of such bodies is still not widely acknowledged.

In 2007 with the modification of Act XXXIV of 1994 on the Police (hereinafter: Police Act) the Parliament amended the provisions for the structure of the police and established the Board. The Board works as an organ of civil control by giving a new platform to the citizens to complain against Police conduct.

The Board

Lawyers with a clean record may be elected as members of the Board, who are eligible to vote and gained outstanding experiences in the field of the protection of fundamental rights. Recently there are five members of the Board, of which four were elected by the Parliament on 13 February 2014 with qualified majority for six years on the joint proposal of the Committee on Human Rights and the Committee on Law Enforcement of the Parliament.

Tamás Lukács was elected as the new chairman of the Board, who is an expert in international human rights law. Between 2010 and 2014 Mr. Lukács was the chairman of the Human Rights, Minority, Civil and Religious Affairs Committee of the Hungarian National Assembly. He was a member of the Hungarian National Assembly in 1999; he taught media ethics between 1998 and 2006 in Pázmány Péter Catholic University. He has been a lawyer since 1996 and was a board member of Magyar Rádió (Hungarian Radio) between 1996 and 2000.

The deputy chairman is Ákos Kozma, who was elected as a member of the Board on 23 July 2010, he is an attorney at law and a law professor.

The other members of the Board are:

Nóra Fráterné Ferenczy, lawyer, expert in bank law, former control lawyer of the Hungarian Tax and Financial Control Administration

– Domonkos Wildner, lawyer, was an assistant of the Constitutional Committee of the Hungarian National Assembly, he was the secretariat of the special group, which investigated the police misconducts of October 2006.

– Csaba Cservák, lawyer, lecturer at the University of Szeged and Károli Gáspár University, he was the head of the Bureau of the President of the Republic.

 The Competence of the Board

The aim of the Board is, on the basis of the Police Act, to conduct complaint procedures – which fell into the excusive competence of the Police before – on its own, from a fundamental rights protective point of view and irrespectively of the subordinate relations. According to Article 92 (1) of the Police Act those police measures and omissions fall into the competence of the Board, which arise in connection with the application of Chapters IV, V and VI of the Police Act.

Accordingly the Board can proceed and investigate certain measures or acts – and decide whether fundamental rights were violated – in the following cases:

– obligation of the performance of police tasks and instructions, and their violation or omission (especially, but not exclusively: obligation to take measures, requirement of proportionality, obligation of police officers to be identifiable, obligation of police officers to provide help;

– police measures or omissions, and their lawfulness (especially, but not exclusively: ID check, search of clothes, luggage and vehicle, arrest, short-term arrest, alien-policing measure, measure taken in private apartment, traffic-related measure);

– application and lawfulness of coercive means (especially, but not exclusively: applying physical force, handcuffing, chemical device, electric shock device, police baton, roadblock, using a weapon, acting in group, quelling a crowd).

Procedure of the Board

The Board conducts procedures initiated upon request, the Board is not able to act ex officio. The procedure of the Board is free of charge and expenses, however the complainant cannot be a fictional person and the complaint cannot be anonym (but later the complainant may ask for the deprival of the decision from personal data.)

It must be emphasized that complaints shall be filed with the Board within twenty days from the infringement of law, but in case the complainant became aware of the infringement at a later time, the deadline shall be calculated from this later date.

Activities of the Board in numbers

In 2016 the Board received 235 complaints. In 2016, the most frequently questioned fundamental rights were the right to fair proceedings (39, 1 %), the right to human dignity (23, 7 %), personal freedom (15, 7 %). The most frequently violated fundamental rights were in last year: the right to fair trial (31, 1 %), the right to human dignity (28, 1 %) and personal freedom (21, 5 %).