The 2016 Report of the National Preventive Mechanism on the Ombudsman's website
The Commissioner for Fundamental Rights has been functioning as National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) since January 1, 2015. The NPM’s task is to regularly examine the treatment of the detainees held in institutions falling under the effect of the OPCAT, the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. In addition to uncovering possible anomalies, the ultimate objective of the NPM is to persuade the authorities and institutions concerned to improve the system of functioning safeguards to prevent all forms of ill-treatment.
Such institutions are establishments that persons, put there by order of any judicial, administrative or other authority, are not permitted to leave at will. These establishments include not only prisons or police holding facilities. Places of detention include, among others, social care institutions, juvenile correctional institutions, closed psychiatric wards, as well as guarded refugee reception centers. As of December 31, 2016, there are altogether 4,000 such institutions operating in Hungary with a little more than 113 thousand detainees.
According to the report on the performance of the NPM’s tasks by Commissioner for Fundamental Rights László Székely in 2016, his colleagues made unannounced visits to ten locations and prepared several reports including, in the spirit of continuous operation, reports on investigations that had begun in 2015. In 2016, they visited the Forensic Psychiatric and Mental Institution, the Cseppkő Children’s Home, several penitentiary institutions, juvenile correctional institutions, a social care institution and a police department. They examined the placement of and the provision of meals and medical care to the detainees, the application of various means of restraint, disciplinary and restrictive measures, as well as their relationships with each other and the staff.
Based on the experiences gained in performing the tasks of the NPM, the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights requested the heads of the inspected places of detention to take the necessary measures on 114 occasions, made another 70 recommendations to the heads of their supervisory organs, and initiated the amendment of the relevant legal regulations in 24 cases. In order to redress an impropriety related to a fundamental right or the infringement of a legal rule, the Commissioner may initiate proceedings by the competent prosecutor through the Prosecutor General. In 2016, László Székely did not avail himself of the possibility since, in the course of the on-the-spot inspections, his colleagues had not detected any circumstances indicative of intentional abuse, potentially resulting in severe physical or psychological trauma.
In addition to giving a detailed description of the visits, the NPM’s conclusions, initiatives, and recommendations, the report also mentions some changes having a favorable impact even in the short term, as well as those locations where the Ombudsman’s colleagues had to overcome attitudes which, albeit temporarily, impeded the conduct of unannounced inspections.
Further information on the National Preventive Mechanism and its activities, visits conducted and reports published since January 1, 2015, may be found at here.