Who, when and how can submit a complaint?

According to Art. 92. Par. 1 of the Police Act defines the cases when a complaint against the police can be submitted to the Board.

Every person (regardless to their nationality) is entitled to submit a claim:
  • who was placed under a police action,
  • or whose interests were violated because the police do not act,
  • or against whom the police applied unlawfully coercive means, and the person feels that his/her fundamental rights were violated or restricted by the police
- can submit a complaint to the Board. It must be emphasized that complaints shall be filed within thirty days (!) from the infringement of law (i.e. from the police action or the omission or the application of the coercive measure), but in case the complainant became aware of the infringement at a later time, the deadline shall be calculated from this later date. The complaints can be submitted personally, or by an authorized person, or by a legal representative
- by post (in this case the complainant must sign the complaint), or by fax, or by e-mail from the webpage of the Board, or there is an opportunity to present personally before the Board in its office hours (after previous check-in by phone).
It is expedient to use – in particular when traveling or the movement of the complainant is limited – the online form of the submission of a complaint, which is available in the webpage of the Board. If the complainant submits his/her complain by this online form gets a confirmation by e-mail that his /her complaint has arrived to the Board. The deadline starts when the complaint is submitted to the Board. However in this case it is necessary to sign the complaint, so later the complainant must sign and send back his/her complaint to the Board by post, fax, or e-mail.
- The procedure of the Board is free of charge and expenses (!). So a complainant can freely request the decision upon his/her request by the National Police Headquarters following the examination and the legal conclusions defined by the Board.

I know from my friend that he / she was infringed by the police, but he / she is afraid to submit a claim. Can I submit a complaint in his/her name?

If your friend gives you a written authorization you freely can. Otherwise a complaint can be submitted either to the Board or to the Police by the person whose rights were affected by the police measure, omission. So those who involved in a police measure can submit his/her claim in person or by a proxy (the latter can be a legal representative or any adult person, who has a full capacity to act).

The statutory representative must act in the name of the person, who has not a full capacity to act (minors under 14 years-old or persons under guardianship). The statutory representative or a proxy can act in the name of the person, whose capacity to act is limited (minors with limited capacity to act, adults whose capacity to act is limited).

Foundations and associations dealing with legal protection, local governments of nationalities and university professors with a doctorate in law can be legal representatives during the procedure.

It is an important rule that the complainant cannot be a fictional person and the complaint cannot be anonym. The complainant must tell either in writing or orally his / her personal data, place of residence and the address of the notification.

What are the deadlines to be considered when submitting a claim?

According to the Art. 93. Par. 1. of the the Police Act the complaints shall be filed with the Board within thirty 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 . If the complainant fills the claim after this twenty days deadline – according to the above mentioned article - the Board will dismiss it, because of its lateness. However if an objective circumstance (e.g. durable hospitalization) was prevented the complainant in submitting the claim and the complainant can prove it the Board can initiate its proceeding.

According to Art. 93/B. those who have missed the twenty days deadline, but thirty days have not passed yet from the infringement of law (or from becoming aware of it) can file a complaint to the head of the police office (Police Chief) of which subordinate has taken the challenged measures against the complainant.

What does the Board investigate during its proceeding?

The Board investigates the following police measures and omissions from a fundamental rights protective point of view :

- 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).

When cannot the Board initiate its proceeding?

On the basis of the above mentioned, without a legal ground the Board cannot initiate investigations based on:

- general remarks, comments, or public announcements;

- investigate pretty offences, reduce or abolish fines imposed on pretty offences;

- examine the legality of actions carried out in criminal procedure;

- decide about compensation;

- determine criminal, pretty offence or disciplinary responsibility of a police officer.

Furthermore if the disputed police action occurred in course of another pending procedure – e.g. criminal or petty offense procedure –, since in this case the complainant has to enforce his/her rights for legal remedy in this other procedure. But (!) there is an exception, when the complainant complains about the method of the act carried out by the police (e.g. the tone of voice used in the questioning of witnesses, the method of the house search), because the Board can examine these cases.

What is important to be known about the procedure of the Board?

According to Art. 92. Par. 1. Points a) and b) the complainant can choose whether he / she like the Police (namely the Chief of the Police Office affected) or the Board to initiate its complaints procedures. This article makes the complainant as the “master of the case”, which basically means that the complainant has the power to initiate a complaint proceeding, to choose which institution (the Police or as an independent institution the Board) decide about his / her complaint . This provision also intended to serve the two procedures to be separated, therefore at the same time only one process – namely the one that the complainant has chosen – can be in progress.

Furthermore according to the Art. 93. Par. 3. of the Police Act the Board has the power to inform about any case of complaint initiated by the Police. If the Board finds a case, where the conditions defined by Art. 92. Par. 1. exist, the Board will inform the complainant and the Police. The complainant may, within eight days of receiving the notification have the Head of the National Police Headquarters decide about his / her complaint after receiving the resolution of the Board. The police organ must suspend its proceeding when receiving the notification of the Board. The complainant can request the forwarding of the procedure during the process of the Police until the final administrative decision and if the conditions of forwarding exist the Board will continue the process in further.

- Only after this can the procedure of the Board be initiated, which main aim is to investigate the taken police acts, measures, coercive-measures and omissions that these were whether legal, necessary, justified and proportionate or have violated the fundamental rights of the complainant.

- The most frequently examined fundamental rights are the right to fair proceedings, personal freedom, the freedom of assembly, the right to human dignity, the right to physical and mental health and the prohibition of discrimination, the degrading treatment have also been arisen in many cases.

- The Board basically obtain evidences (e.g. statements, records, reports, pictures, audio files, etc.) from the complainant and from the Police, but if it is necessary to clarify what have happened the Board Members themselves have the power to have the Police give additional informations about the case, request experts and also to may enter to the premises and rooms of the Police.

If the violation of the fundamental rights of the complainant can be established, the Board must decide about the degree of the grievance. Because the seriousness of the violation will determine the type of the resolution of the Board.

If the Board concludes that:

- there was no violation of a fundamental right (i. e. the fundamental rights of the complainant was legally restricted);

- the infirngement of a fundamental right cannot be decided because of the contradiction between the statement of the complainant and Police ;

- there was an insignificant infringement of fundamental rights the complaint is forwarded to the head of the police organ by which the given measure was taken. The same decision appears if according to the Board’s opinion the restriction of a fundamental right was justified and lawful, and in case the infringement of fundamental rights cannot be determined. However, the Board is not entitled to forward the complaint if the complainant previously protests against the forwarding. In this case the Board establishes the termination of the procedure in its resolution. The Board decides on the termination as well, if the complaint is withdrawn by the complainant.

there was a severe infringement of a fundamental right.

In this case the complaint and the resolution is sent to the Head of the National Police Headquarters. Within fifteen days after receiving the Board’s resolution the Head of the National Police Headquarters decides on the case in a one-instance procedure according to the provisions for the general rules of administrative proceedings and services. The resolution of the Board does not bind the Head of the National Police Headquarters, but he must explain the reasons for deciding contrary to the Board’s resolution. There is no right to appeal the administrational decision of the Head of the National Police Headquarters, but the complainant is entitled to challenge it before the court in the frames of an oversight proceeding.

How does the Board decide in a case?

The decision of the Board is the resolution, which reflects the majority opinion, full consent of the members is not needed. Members of the Board may express their different standpoints by attaching their dissenting and concurring opinions to the resolutions.

What kind of opportunities have the Board to develop its case law?

In addition to the investigation of a specific complaint (or even in connection with that) the Board has the power to make proposals for the Head of the National Police Headquarters to issue orders, amend or repeal them in order to guarantee a more effective enforcement of fundamental rights.

The Board makes a report about its functioning and experience to the National Assembly every three years. Besides this the Board also inform the committees responsible for the Police and fundamental rights of the National Assembly annually.

How is the principle of publicity realized regarding to the functioning of the Board?

The most important and most effective mean of the Board is publicity. Within this the Board shall inform the relevant committees of the National Assembly of its work annually, and makes reports to the plenary session of the National Assembly three years, the Board publishes its resolutions on its website in anonymized form (unless the complainant protested beforehand) and also can inform the press about issues (which the Board considers important).

What is the main aim and the practice of the Board?

The aim of our above mentioned activity is to improve of the well-being of the persons and the society and to regain their confidence. We know exactly that the democratic functioning of a state begins with the measures of the Police. There are only a few situations in life when such a strong difference in power and interest exists between the civilians and official authorities, while the procedural actions (which is quite broad) should squeeze into a narrower time frame. Therefore it is needed to regulate legally (which may seems to be extremely detailed) police actions and this is why it is necessary to monitor it. this is the vocation of the Board, and we are hoping that we can fulfill it more and more with your promoting cooperation and we can make together a further step towards a more complete enforcement of the rule of law.