Last Updated: Thursday, 31 July 2014, 17:47 GMT

2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Hungary

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 19 June 2012
Cite as United States Department of State, 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Hungary, 19 June 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4fe30cc223.html [accessed 1 August 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 (UK), 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 in areas of Hungary along the Austrian border. Roma women and girls who grow up in Hungarian orphanages are highly vulnerable to sex trafficking within the country. Men and women from Hungary are subjected to conditions of forced labor in the UK, Spain, Canada, and the United States, as well as within Hungary. During the last year, government officials reported an increase in forced labor cases. Women from Slovakia, Romania, Moldova, Poland, Ukraine, and China are transported through Hungary to the Netherlands, the UK, 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, which may sometimes involve the exploitation of trafficking victims. Roma are disproportionately represented among trafficking victims in 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. In 2011, the government increased its anti-trafficking investigations and courts strengthened penalties for some convicted trafficking offenders. Furthermore, the government remedied a previous shortcoming by providing year-round funding to an NGO assisting trafficking victims. During the year, however, the parliamentary commissioner for civil rights reported that Hungarian police treated children found in prostitution as offenders, reflecting a serious misunderstanding of the internationally recognized definition of child sex trafficking. Furthermore, the overall conviction rate for trafficking offenders continued to decline and the government provided limited assistance to victims. Finally, the government did not vigorously investigate or prosecute trafficking-related complicity, which hampered its ability to investigate trafficking and identify victims.

Recommendations for Hungary: Develop, implement, and support victim assistance programs for all trafficking victims in Hungary and increase incentives for victims to voluntarily cooperate with law enforcement; increase efforts to prosecute trafficking offenses and convict and punish trafficking offenders while ensuring the human rights of victims; designate specific national-level funding for trafficking victim assistance; improve anti-trafficking training for local police to ensure children in prostitution are not treated as offenders and punished for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked; amend the criminal code to ensure necessary compliance with international standards – including through revising Paragraph 175/b which requires proof that a victim is bought or sold – with a view toward increasing investigations and prosecutions of trafficking; institutionalize partnerships with NGOs, including those representing Roma, on victim identification and assistance in order to achieve a more victim-centered approach to addressing trafficking in Hungary; and consider establishing specialized prosecutors and judges to litigate trafficking cases.

Prosecution

The Hungarian government demonstrated some improvements in its law enforcement efforts by increasing its investigations of trafficking cases in 2011. Hungary prohibits all forms of trafficking through Paragraph 175/b of its criminal code. Prescribed penalties range from one to 20 years' imprisonment, which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Hungarian officials and outside experts continued to cite the narrow scope of Hungary's trafficking laws and a precedent set by the Hungarian Supreme Court – specifically that a victim of human trafficking must have either been bought or sold by another person, or that direct or recently committed violence as opposed to the use of psychological coercion or abuse of a position of vulnerability had been used as a form of coercion – for creating overly strict evidentiary requirements for prosecutors to prove the crime of human trafficking. Because of these legal hurdles, prosecutors continued to use other statutes to prosecute trafficking offenders, which carry lighter sentences that the trafficking statute. Police increased the number of investigations of trafficking cases in 2011, initiating 18 new trafficking investigations, including two forced labor investigations. This is an improvement from eight investigations initiated in 2010. Courts prosecuted and convicted eight sex trafficking offenders in 2011, a decline from 12 convicted trafficking offenders in 2010 and a sustained decline from 23 convicted offenders in 2009. As opposed to the previous year, the courts did not convict any labor trafficking offenders in 2011. Sentences for the eight convicted offenders ranged from a one-year suspended sentence to nine years' imprisonment. There continued to be a lack of specialized judges and prosecutors for trafficking cases, and few county police officers were trained in combating trafficking. The government did not provide data on any investigations or prosecutions of trafficking-related complicity. However, a 2011 report based on interviews with survivors of sex trafficking contained reports of police discouraging victims who sought help from pursuing criminal cases. Further, the report contained strong indications of trafficking-related complicity, including reports of officers physically abusing and humiliating trafficking victims and not taking action when victims disclosed the names of their pimps. Country experts reported that police often failed to investigate trafficking cases that involved Roma victims.

Protection

The Hungarian government demonstrated some progress in its protection of trafficking victims in 2011. During the reporting period, the government reported identifying 34 victims in Hungary; the Hungarian Consular Services identified 90 additional Hungarian victims abroad. The government did not offer evidence that it provided reintegration assistance upon these victims' return to Hungary; according to country experts, there were no government social services available for repatriated victims. One NGO reported that the government only formally recognized trafficking victims if they agreed to testify in court and that NGOs must finance any care provided to victims during the 30-day reflection period during which victims may decide whether to participate in legal actions against their traffickers. While the government provided an amount equivalent to $27,000 for the operation of an NGO shelter for victims of trafficking – which provided assistance to 24 Hungarian victims in 2011 – it failed to renew its contract with this NGO once the year ended. Another NGO provided separate assistance to 15 victims and IOM assisted in the repatriation of 20 Hungarian victims exploited abroad. Moreover, the government's Victim Support Service assisted 14 victims from the UK, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Germany, who had been exploited within Hungary. An ombudsman report issued in December 2011 exposed a deep misunderstanding among Hungarian authorities of child trafficking issues and highlighted the problem of police treating children in prostitution as perpetrators, as opposed to victims of trafficking. One NGO reported that more than 100 Hungarian children were charged with solicitation for prostitution over an eight-month period in 2011. Furthermore, the same NGO reported that at least 16 potential trafficking victims, including 11 Romanians, were charged and prosecuted for begging offenses.

The government did not provide adequate incentives for victims to participate in the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers in 2011. 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 this temporary immigration relief in 2011. NGOs continue to report that a 30-day reflection period is insufficient time for victims to work through the trauma and decide whether to testify against their exploiters. Foreign victims may apply for a six-month temporary residency permit if they choose to cooperate with law enforcement. Country experts noted concerns in 2011 that victims who chose not to assist law enforcement were forced to testify; other victims continued be charged for violating prostitution, labor, or migration laws.

Prevention

The Government of Hungary demonstrated some improvements in its efforts to prevent human trafficking. In December 2011, the national coordinator chaired an NGO roundtable to improve the work of the National Coordination Mechanism. In May 2011, the Office of the Prosecutor General funded and organized anti-trafficking training for county prosecutor offices. The government did not demonstrate transparency and accountability in its anti-trafficking efforts by systematically monitoring or assessing these efforts during the reporting period. However, in November 2011, it launched a new website listing information on its anti-trafficking efforts, indicators of trafficking, and checklists for Hungarians planning on working abroad. The government did not undertake specific measures to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts during the reporting period. The government provided anti-trafficking training to Hungarian crisis management troops prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions.

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