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Dec 16, 2020 - Zoltán Kovács

Hungarian Parliament has put an end to the ‘prison business’

The Hungarian Assembly voted to redirect compensation to convicted criminals for prison conditions to the actual victims of the crimes committed.

 

Today, the National Assembly adopted a proposal submitted by Minister of Justice Judit Varga to redirect payments related to prison overcrowding to the actual victims of crime. MEPs adopted the proposal with 153 votes in favor; there were 13 abstentions.

Explaining the proposal, Minister Varga said that under the current regulations, convicts often receive significant compensation due to placement conditions that they claim violated their fundamental rights, while their victims and the families of the victims received only limited compensation.

In the last three years, convicts and their lawyers — exploiting the provisions of the current regulation — have sued the state for more than HUF 10 billion on the grounds of poor detention conditions. However, only a fraction of this amount went to victims.

“Abuses of prison-related compensation lawsuits have become apparent, seriously undermining society's sense of justice,” said Judit Varga, adding that “in some cases, those convicted of crimes that deeply shook the public have received millions in damages, while the victims and their relatives did not have the opportunity to pursue their claims effectively.”

“Therefore, the parliament suspended the payment of sums awarded in compensation proceedings with immediate effect this spring. The current decision of the parliament excludes the possibility of further abuses of the detainee-compensation system and enforces the legitimate claims of victims and their relatives faster and more efficiently than ever before,” she continued.

With the current decision, parliament has finally succeeded in curbing the practice of making business out prison sentences, an enterprise that had grown to billions of taxpayer forints. At the same time, the amendment to the law now adopted comprehensively develops the possibility of enforcing the rights of victims, as well as providing for the possibility of paying other claims against convicts.

Photo credit: Infostart