Open Letter to the OIN and Bicske police regarding police presence in Bicske camp

To the Police Office of Bicske

To the Office of Immigration and Nationality

The refugees in the Bicske Reception Centre have informed the members of the Migrant Solidarity Group that they the recent presence of the police inside Bicske camp is causing them great grievances. Every day, within the area of mere several hundred square meters of the camp the presence of 10 to 30 policemen triggers anxiety and bewilderment among them.

Anxiety from the mere presence of the police as it is well known that the refugees have not accidentally left their homeland. They mostly fled from armed members of the public authorities in uniform who persecuted them because of their religion, gender, race, political opinion or because of their membership of any other social group.

They feel bewilderment because no one can understand why there is a need for such a high level of police presence in a place where nobody has committed any criminal acts.

“Are we now in prison?” – a refugee child asked this question the other day and her parents could not really reassure the child.

The refugees, who live in the camp, have also reported that the police are not only intruding into the refugees’ living space, but they are also present in quite a threatening manner when the refugees share their most personal problems: for instance, in the doctor’s room during examinations or in the social worker’s office when the refugees try to inquire about work and housing opportunities.
It is not difficult to see that the presence of the policemen destroys the trust between the refugees and their helpers in these situations, which are based on confidentiality.
According to the refugees, one example for this is when some social workers or nurses threaten them with calling the police if the perplexed refugees would not leave their office.

It is not difficult to see that the presence of the policemen goes against the norms of both medical and social worker ethics. Police presence during the medical examination violates the principles of medical ethics at several points. One of the cornerstones of medical ethics is the principles of the respect for the individual that includes humanism, the respect for
human rights and dignity, and also the highest level of protection of personal integrity.

In addition, the police presence also violates the Hippocratic Oath, the teaching that has been in force for centuries, and the Article 2 (1), 10 (1) and 25 of the Healthcare Law of 1997.

Police presence during the consultation with the social worker violates Article 8, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 26 of the Code of Ethics for Social Work.

The refugees of the Bicske camp have also reported that their ID cards are checked by the policemen in the camp while they are just sitting and talking to each other.

Some refugees have also reported that in one case, a police officer used such a harsh coercive measure against a refugee that the refugee’s arm got broken during this intervention (this man can be seen in this video made by Átlátszó at 14:20).

It is totally unacceptable that the refugees are threatened by police presence and rough handling after all that they have gone through. These people suffered from persecution in their homeland and from grievances during their escape, and also had to endure
imprisonment or other inhumane detention after they arrived in Hungary.

Presumably the Office of Immigration and Nationality (OIN) is trying to prevent tensions with the presence of the police in the camp. The tensions that the office itself created by putting people, who arrived in Hungary from the world’s most hard-hit countries, into crowded, mass centers. The traumas that accumulated in the refugees will evidently end up clashing in a camp where hundreds of people live and where, apart from the daily 1-2 hour program the refugees have to live a demoted existence. The OIN’s response so far is that the refugees, most of whom have suffered from traumas, are being watched carefully by the police.

However, the Hungarian government could produce a different response. In the short run, the police, who are paid by the taxpayers, should be sent to places where they do no harm or do not waste time, but where their presence is useful.

In the short term the OIN should organize continuous programs that would help to relieve the tensions among the traumatised people living in these crowded places and also would give a new impetus to these people who are tired of life. As a solution, we also recommend the employment of a sufficient number of properly trained professionals (social workers,

doctors, nurses, administrators, etc.), whose presence and expertise would help to reduce the tensions because of which the OIN would consider the police presence necessary.

In the long term, however, it would be essential to close all these mass centers that are totally unsuitable for the integration of the recognised refugees into Hungarian society and to provide housing for them that does not separate the refugees from, but places them among the local population.

We demand that the employees of the OIN should call the police only in specific cases, when there is an imminent criminal threat, and they should not hinder further the integration of the refugees, who are already in very disadvantageous starting
position, into the Hungarian society!

Budapest, 30, November 2013 Migrant Solidarity Group