Contributor(s)Hungarian Helsinki Committee

Physical integrity

The National Prison Service confirmed 5 prisoner suicides in 2015, one of whom had been sentenced to life in prison There were 6 suicides in 2014.   

61 prisoners died of cardiovascular disease or cancer in 2014. The National Prison Service confirms and reports on detainee deaths, but it does not disclose the names of those deceased.

Number of deaths



Suicide rate in detention



High rates of prison overcrowding in Hungary led to a European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) pilot judgment on 10 March 2015. The ECHR judged in the case of Varga and Others v. Hungary that the extent of overcrowding was inhumane and degrading treatment, a violation of Article 3. Hungary must increase non-prison sentences and reduce pre-trial detention to comply with this judgment.

440 criminal complaints were filed against prison staff members in 2014, with 27 resulting in convictions. There is little information on the nature of these complaints and no data on how many were raised as a result of ill treatment.    

Prisoners serving sentences of ‘life in prison without possibility for parole’ in Hungary can receive a Presidential pardon if they have served more than 40 years of their sentence.

The ECHR has ruled that ‘life in prison without possibility for parole’ sentencing, whilst not unique to Hungary, is inhuman and degrading treatment, a violation of Article 3. On 20 May 2014, the ECHR heard the case of László Magyar v. Hungary and ruled that the administration put in place a reform of ‘whole life sentences’.

No cases of arbitrary or secret detention have been reported.