The applicant and his girlfriend were about to leave a club when three men, unknown to them, started to insult them. The three men made degrading comments about the applicant’s Roma origin and about the physical appearance of his girlfriend. The applicant lodged a criminal complaint with the Prosecutor’s Office. He submitted that the three who had insulted him had shouted at him “Dirty gypsy, do you need a cigarette? Here is money!” and thrown cigarettes and money at him. He also maintained that Mr E.D., who presented himself as a police officer upon his arrival at the scene, had asked the others whether “they could not handle a dirty little gypsy” and, turning to him, had called him a gypsy. He also gave a description of the injuries he had suffered. Furthermore, the applicant explained that the day after the incident he had identified Mr E.D. on a social network. He had extracted some of his posts and submitted them to the Prosecutor’s Office.
The applicant complained that the Hungarian authorities had failed in their obligation to conduct an effective investigation into the racist attack which he had suffered, and in particular that they had not taken sufficient action to establish a possible racist motive for the assault.
When investigating violent incidents, State authorities have the additional duty to take all reasonable steps to unmask any racist motive and to establish whether or not ethnic hatred or prejudice may have played a role in the events. The authorities must do what is reasonable in the circumstances to collect and secure the evidence, explore all practical means of discovering the truth and deliver fully reasoned, impartial and objective decisions, without omitting suspicious facts that may be indicative of a racially induced violence.
The Court noted that the prosecuting authorities’ insistence on identifying an exclusive racist motive, their reluctance to link Mr E.D.’s posts to the incident despite remarkable concordances and, lastly, their failure to identify the racist motive in the face of powerful hate crime indicators such as the posts resulted from a manifestly unreasonable assessment of the circumstances of the case. This impaired the adequacy of the investigation to an extent that is irreconcilable with the State’s obligation in this field to conduct vigorous investigations. The Court stated that this amounted to a violation of Article 14 read in conjunction with Article 3 of the Convention.