Wednesday, June 27, 2012

New criminal code

First of all, I would like to say that it is about time! The laws in Hungary needed to be toughened as the old laws did not deal with the new wave of crimes being committed. Many rural Hungarians are dealing with crimes committed against them on a regular basis. Police protection is very minimal in rural Hungary as many Hungarian villages don't even have a police station or police patrols conducted. Hungarians in the rural areas feel very unsafe and unprotected.

Crime is now more commonplace in Hungary since the end of the communist system in Hungary. During the old system, many people feared the police and communists authorities resulting in a very low crime rate. When the political climate changed in 1990, crime began to increase across the country. Ethnic Hungarians now have to deal with Roma (gypsy) crime, especially in rural areas.

The Roma criminals usually target elderly people in small villages as they know that they are defenceless and won't fight back. In recent years, there have been many cases of elderly Hungarians being robbed, murdered and raped by Roma criminals. This has given rise to the controversial Hungarian Guard who in recent years, started patrols in villages and towns plagued by Roma crime. Nearly two thousand Hungarians have been murdered by Roma criminals in Hungary in the last twenty years. Usually about 100 Hungarians are murdered yearly by Roma criminals. This is interesting, because the number of Roma murdered by Hungarians is only a tiny percentage in the same time period. More importantly, Hungarian police are not allowed to keep stats or statistics on Roma crime. Why not?

Roma crime is not even covered by the mainstream media (left-wing) in Hungary. When Hungarians are murdered by Roma criminals, it is not even mentioned in the media. When a Roma is murdered by a Hungarian, then it receives full coverage in the Hungarian as well as international media. Double standard? You bet! The new criminal code will give self-defence rights to citizens who are victims of burglars and armed people who are threatening their person or property. Hungarians will now be allowed to shoot criminals breaking into their homes or threatening them with weapons.

Hungary's parliament approved the stricter criminal code on Monday. It replaces the current 30-year-old law. The law was approved with 243 votes for, 45 against and 43 abstentions. The governing coalition parties supported  it while the left-wing socialists and LMP rejected it. The Jobbik party abstained from the vote. Apparently, Jobbik wanted the death penalty reinstated. The new criminal code has stricter sentences for serious and repeat offenders. It will protect the elderly, children and the handicapped. The new code also lowers the age of criminal responsibility from 14 to 12 years of age in the cases of premeditated homicide, voluntary manslaughter and bodily harm leading to death or resulting in life-threatening injuries.

There was also protest to the new criminal code by at least ten civil groups in Hungary. Even though the Hungarian left and the civil groups protested the new code, a majority of Hungarians will still rejoice. This is still a victory for the majority of Hungarian people who are law-abiding and hard working. Hungarians have been calling for stricter punishments for those who commit crimes for years, especially in the wake of Hungarians being murdered by Roma criminals. It is still to be seen whether the stricter criminal code reduces Roma crime in the country. The new criminal code will go into effect on July 1, 2013.