Tariff Rates of Detainees’ Phone Calls to Drop - AJBH-EN
Tariff Rates of Detainees’ Phone Calls to Drop
04/11/2021 – As of 1 November 2021, the tariff rates of mobile phone calls and calls through social media platforms made by detainees will be reduced by six forints per minute. Commissioner for Fundamental Rights Dr. Ákos Kozma welcomes the measure the Hungarian Prison Service Headquarters (HPSH) has taken in response to the conclusions of his Report No. AJB-2236/2021.
During his inquiry, the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights established (Report No. AJB-2236/2021) that the regulation of prisoners’ telephone contacts currently in force – not including the extraordinary rules introduced due to the state of danger brought about by the coronavirus pandemic –, and the applicable tariff rates in particular, may lead to a violation of the fundamental right to respect for private and family life, and it may cause an impropriety related to the right to private sphere laid down in Article VI of the Fundamental Law of Hungary.
Consequently, in the summer of 2021, Commissioner Kozma asked the National Commander of the Hungarian Prison Service Headquarters that in cooperation with the penitentiary institutions and the service providers concerned, and, if necessary, with the involvement of the Ministry for Innovation and Technology, he begin talks about the reduction of the tariffs of mobile phone calls and calls through social media platforms.
Furthermore, the Ombudsman asked the Commander of the Hungarian Prison Service Headquarters to consider creating an internal regulation which – while being proportionate to the different regime categories – would guarantee the fullest possible enforcement of the right to private and family life as well as to defence even for detainees struggling with financial difficulties, and which would make it possible to ensure and broaden electronic contacts.
The Ombudsman welcomes the penitentiary organisation’s effective measures to reduce phone call tariffs as well as the information provided by the Commander of the Hungarian Prison Service Headquarters according to which they are planning to amend HPSH Instruction No. 29/2021 (19 May) on the policy for electronic contacts via telecommunications devices, i.e. the internal regulation currently in force, so that upon justified request, electronic contacts would become permissible for detainees in stricter regimes once a month for a maximum of 30 minutes, which would further broaden their possibilities of contacts by electronic means. On top of the above, the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights asked the Commander of the Hungarian Prison Service Headquarters to review the tariff rates on a yearly basis if possible.
In Dr. Ákos Kozma’s opinion, all of this is a clear indication of the fact that the Hungarian Prison Service Headquarters and its leadership are especially attentive and open to giving due consideration to the recommendations put forward by the Office of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights.