Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 April 2014, 14:04 GMT

2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Hungary

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 27 June 2011
Cite as United States Department of State, 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Hungary, 27 June 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e12ee752d.html [accessed 17 April 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Hungary (Tier 2)

Hungary is a source, transit, and destination country for women and girls subjected to sex trafficking, and a source country for men and women subjected to forced labor. Women from Hungary are forced into prostitution in the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Italy, Norway, Spain, Ireland, Belgium, Greece, and the United States. Women from eastern Hungary are subjected to forced prostitution in Budapest and areas in Hungary along the Austrian border. Roma women and girls who grow up in Hungarian orphanages are highly vulnerable to internal sex trafficking. Men and women from Hungary are subjected to conditions of forced labor in the United Kingdom, Spain, Canada, and the United States, as well as within Hungary. Women from Slovakia, Romania, Moldova, Poland, Ukraine, and China are transported through Hungary to the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France, and the United Arab Emirates where they are subsequently subjected to forced prostitution; some of these victims may be exploited in Hungary before they reach their final destination country. Romanian women and children are subjected to sex trafficking in Hungary. Men from Western Europe travel to Budapest for the purpose of adult sex tourism, some of which may involve the exploitation of trafficking victims. Roma victims are overrepresented in trafficking victims from Hungary.

The Government of Hungary does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government of Hungary funded a shelter for trafficking victims for the first five months of 2010; however, this shelter closed in May 2010 and the government has yet to fund a replacement shelter for trafficking victims. The government provided some in-kind assistance to NGOs assisting trafficking victims and funded a hotline for trafficking victims. Efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking cases and convict offenders appeared to decline during the year, though the government continued to sentence the majority of convicted offenders to time in prison. The government provided a reflection period for foreign victims of trafficking; however, domestic victims were not permitted a reflection period. Additionally, at least one victim was punished for unlawful acts as a direct result of being trafficked.

Recommendations for Hungary: Boost efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses and convict and punish trafficking offenders; ensure that victims are not punished for unlawful acts as a direct result of being trafficked; ensure foreign victims have the same access to government-funded assistance as do Hungarian victims, including shelter; ensure government funding for trafficking victim assistance is sustained and renewable as well as allocated and distributed; provide trafficking training for law enforcement to increase the number of victims referred by police for assistance; consider amending Paragraph 175/b of the criminal code to remove language requiring proof that a victim is bought or sold – this change may increase prosecutions and convictions as well as victim identification; improve awareness among law enforcement and NGOs of what government-provided and privately provided services are available to victims of trafficking; and conduct a general trafficking awareness campaign about both sex and labor trafficking, targeting both potential victims as well as the general public.

Prosecution

The Hungarian government demonstrated decreased anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the reporting period. Hungary prohibits all forms of trafficking through Paragraph 175/b of its criminal code, though prosecutors rely on other trafficking-related statutes to prosecute most trafficking cases. Penalties prescribed in Paragraph 175/b range from one year to life imprisonment, which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Authorities note that because of a ruling by the Hungarian Supreme Court, prosecutors must meet strict evidentiary requirements for proving the crime of human trafficking under Paragraph 175/b, specifically that a victim of human trafficking had either been bought or sold by another person, or that direct or recently committed violence had been used as a form of coercion as opposed to the use of psychological coercion or abuse of a position of vulnerability. Because of this evidentiary standard, prosecutors generally use other statues to prosecute trafficking offenders. Police initiated eight new trafficking investigations, compared with 27 investigations initiated in 2009. Authorities prosecuted eight traffickers in 2010, compared with 16 in 2009. Convictions were obtained against 10 sex trafficking offenders and two labor trafficking offenders in 2010, compared with 23 sex trafficking convictions in 2009. In 2010, at least eight of 12 convicted offenders were sentenced to time in prison, compared with 20 of 23 convicted offenders sentenced to time in prison in 2009. Those sentenced to time in prison in 2010 received sentences ranging from one to seven years' imprisonment. The government did not provide any funding for trafficking-specific training of law enforcement officials; however, the government did provide venues for trafficking-specific training sessions run by NGOs for 62 law enforcement officials, social workers, teachers, and child care and protection workers. The government also provided anti-trafficking training to consular officials before their overseas postings. The government conducted six joint trafficking investigations with law enforcement from the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, and France. NGOs reported that police often failed to investigate trafficking cases with Roma victims. There were no special judges or prosecutors for trafficking cases, and few county police officers trained in combating trafficking. The government maintained a central database to flag suspected trafficking cases for potential follow up by the National Bureau of Investigation. There were no reports of government officials complicit in trafficking crimes in 2010.

Protection

The Hungarian government made uneven progress in protecting and providing assistance to victims during the reporting period; while it funded a shelter during the reporting period, that funding was allowed to lapse partway through the year and the government made no provisions for alternate sources of shelter for victims. A total of 22 victims were identified by the government in 2010; 16 were referred to IOM, while four were otherwise assisted by the government. Privately funded NGOs identified an additional 22 victims and provided assistance to a combined total of 38 trafficking victims in 2010, compared with a total of 45 victims assisted by NGOs in 2009. NGOs expressed concern that the government's legal interpretation of "victim of human trafficking" was often too narrow to include some victims of trafficking, thus making it difficult for these organizations to secure government funding. Although the government allocated approximately $30,000 in 2009 to an NGO to establish a trafficking shelter, only $19,500 was used, and the shelter closed in May 2010. The shelter was limited to assisting Hungarian victims of trafficking, and assisted three such victims in 2010 before closing. The government encouraged victims to assist with trafficking investigations and prosecutions; in 2010, three victims assisted in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases. The government offered foreign victims a 30-day reflection period to decide whether to assist law enforcement; however, no foreign victims applied for or received the 30-day temporary residency permits in 2010. Foreign victims may apply for a six-month temporary residency permit if they choose to cooperate with law enforcement.

Hungarian victims were not provided with a reflection period to receive assistance and decide whether to assist law enforcement; instead, Hungarian victims were required to decide at the time of initial identification whether they wanted to assist law enforcement. In practice, some victims who chose not to assist law enforcement were forced to testify, and trafficking victims may be charged for violating prostitution, labor, or migration laws. At least one victim of trafficking was arrested and prosecuted in 2010 and children in prostitution were at times not screened as potential trafficking victims when detained by law enforcement. NGOs reported that some victims were reluctant to approach the police for fear of prosecution for prostitution.

Prevention

Hungary demonstrated negligible efforts to raise awareness during the reporting period. For another year, the central government took no steps to conduct any general anti-trafficking awareness campaigns focused on the general public or potential victims of trafficking; however, local officials delivered lectures about trafficking prevention in schools, orphanages, and churches. In contrast with previous years, the government did not include NGOs in National Coordinating Mechanism meetings and the meetings were largely symbolic. The national strategy to combat human trafficking, adopted in 2008, established a framework of cooperation for government agencies involved in trafficking cases. However, the government has yet to adopt a complementary national action plan. The government did not undertake specific measures to reduce demand for commercial sex acts during the reporting period.

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