HUNGARY: Tier 2
Hungary is a source, transit, and, to a lesser extent, destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Vulnerable groups include Hungarians in extreme poverty, Roma, unaccompanied asylum-seekers, and homeless men. Hungarian women and children are subjected to sex trafficking within the country and abroad, mostly within Europe—with particularly high numbers in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Hungarians, particularly Romani women and girls from eastern Hungary and from state care institutions, are exploited in sex trafficking in large numbers in Belgium by Hungarians also of Romani origin. A large number of Hungarian child sex trafficking victims exploited within the country and abroad come from state-provided childcare institutions and correctional facilities, and traffickers recruit them upon leaving these institutes. Hungarian women lured into sham marriages to third-country nationals within Europe are reportedly subjected to forced prostitution. Hungarian men and women are subjected to forced labor domestically and abroad, including in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, other European countries, and North America. There are strong indicators labor trafficking of Hungarian men in Western Europe has intensified in agriculture, construction, and factories. Trafficking victims from Eastern European countries transit Hungary en route to Western Europe. Hungary is a transit country for asylum-seekers and illegal migrants, some of whom may be or may become trafficking victims. Within the country, Romani children are exploited in forced begging, child sex trafficking involving both girls and boys, and forced petty crime.
During the reporting period, international organizations and government officials reported the dramatic rise in migrants and refugees arriving predominantly from Syria, Afghanistan, and Kosovo. These individuals were highly vulnerable to trafficking. International organizations reported a high prevalence of trafficking indicators amongst migrants in Hungary; however, the formal mechanisms set to screen migrants for trafficking indicators failed to identify any such cases.
The Government of Hungary does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Authorities increased law enforcement efforts against human trafficking, although data on these efforts was unreliable and efforts to address sex and labor trafficking of children have remained weak for several years in a row. Despite increased efforts, including funding for NGOs providing services for victims, increased funding for shelters, and new victim protection legislation, government protection efforts were insufficient. Specialized services for child victims did not exist and law enforcement arrested children exploited in prostitution, including sentencing nine children to imprisonment despite their being subjected to trafficking. Shortcomings in security and services at state care institutions for children remained widespread, resulting in high vulnerability of children under state protection during and after their time in these facilities.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR HUNGARY:
Screen all individuals in prostitution for trafficking indicators and ensure neither adults nor children are punished for crimes committed as a result of trafficking, including prostitution; take steps to prevent trafficking among vulnerable children residing in state-run child care institutions and individuals who leave these institutions; increase identification of and assistance for child victims exploited within Hungary; increase law enforcement efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict the perpetrators of all forms of trafficking; increase victim-centered training of law enforcement, prosecutors, and social workers; bolster protection for victims who face serious harm and retribution from their traffickers, including by developing longer-term care options to improve reintegration; increase funding for and provision of specialized victim services and provide consistent funding to NGOs to offer victim care; enhance the collection and reporting of reliable law enforcement and victim protection data; and bring the anti-trafficking law in line with international law by more precisely defining exploitation and requiring fraud, force, or coercion as elements of the core offense of adult trafficking.
The government increased law enforcement efforts against human trafficking, although data on these efforts was unreliable and efforts to address sex and labor trafficking of children appeared to remain weak. Article 192 of the 2013 criminal code prohibits many forms of human trafficking, but is overly broad because it does not require the use or threat of force or fraud to prove the basic offense of trafficking in persons, instead making force, the threat of force, or fraud aggravated elements resulting in enhanced penalties under article 192(3). The law defines exploitation as the abuse of power for the purpose of taking advantage of a victim but does not include the necessary purposes of exploitation, as defined by international law. Prescribed penalties range from one to 20 years’ imprisonment, which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes. Article 193 of the criminal code prohibits forced labor, with sentences ranging from one to eight years’ imprisonment, while article 203 penalizes profiting from child prostitution, with penalties of up to eight years’ imprisonment.
Law enforcement data remained unreliable, making it difficult to assess efforts. In 2015 police initiated 62 trafficking investigations, including 28 for forced labor, seven for forced begging, two for sex trafficking, and 25 for unspecified trafficking, compared with 10 forced labor investigations and 10 other trafficking investigations started in 2014. Officials prosecuted 18 individuals, including at least one for forced labor, compared with 18 individuals prosecuted in 2014. The government did not report how many investigations or prosecutions, if any, involved child sex trafficking. Courts convicted 22 traffickers in 2015, compared with 10 sex traffickers convicted in 2014. Sentences ranged from no jail time or suspended sentences to six years’ imprisonment. The government did not provide information on the specific type of trafficking crimes committed aside from forced labor. National police investigated transnational trafficking cases, and local police investigated internal cases; NGOs criticized local police for lack of sensitivity toward trafficking cases. Observers raised concerns that law enforcement regularly underreported trafficking offenses. Although the 2012 criminal code eliminated the previous requirement to provide evidence of a commercial transaction for a victim, judges continued to seek this evidence. Prosecutors appeared reluctant to press trafficking charges and chose lesser crimes instead, which were easier to prove in court, but often resulted in suspended sentences, permitted traffickers to commit a serious crime with impunity, endangered the victims they exploited, diminished the deterrence effect, and prevented policymakers from effectively evaluating the trafficking situation and calibrating policies and resources to fight this crime.
Anti-trafficking experts reported police categorized children between the ages of 14 and 18 as “youth” instead of children and treated them as criminals instead of victims, particularly in cases of child sex trafficking. Experts also reported police generally failed to investigate or remained reluctant to investigate certain trafficking cases involving child victims, including vulnerable children in state-run care institutions. There were no reported investigations, prosecutions, or convictions for official complicity. Authorities provided anti-trafficking training to some government officials, particularly police and prosecutors. Officials coordinated with other European governments on anti-trafficking investigations and extradited 30 individuals accused of trafficking to other European countries.
The government’s protection efforts remained insufficient, as specialized services for child victims did not exist and law enforcement arrested children exploited in prostitution, including sentencing nine children to imprisonment despite their being subjected to sex trafficking. The government did not demonstrate adequate efforts to identify victims among vulnerable populations, such as children exploited in prostitution or adults and children living in government-run institutions. The government decree on the trafficking victim identification mechanism listed the institutions responsible for identifying victims, the questionnaire to be completed with suspected victims, and procedural protocols. The Victim Assistance Service of the Office of Justice identified eight victims, including one child, compared with 20 total victims in 2014. The National Crisis Management and Information Service reported 27 victims, including four men, 13 women, and 10 children. NGOs reported identifying 25 trafficking victims—19 female victims, four male victims, and two transgender victims. Two government-funded shelters provided care for 62 victims, including 33 adult women, seven adult men, and 22 dependent children accompanying adult victims.
In November 2015, Parliament amended legislation that introduced new victim protection services, including psychological and emotional support in courtrooms; a requirement to provide victims with more information during criminal proceedings; the opportunity for each sex trafficking victim to be questioned by an individual of his or her gender; and closed hearings. Victims may ask their perpetrator not to be present in the courtroom and officials must alert victims prior to the release of their traffickers from custody. NGOs noted a lack of trained staff, funding, and available services, particularly for long-term needs such as reintegration. The government was required by law to provide victim assistance and state compensation to victims exploited within Hungary. Authorities provided victims financial support, psychological services, legal assistance, and referral to a shelter. The government increased the funding to 19 million forints ($67,600) for two NGO-run family shelters in 2015 that could reserve a total of 16 beds for trafficking victims for a renewable 90-day period; the government provided 16 million forints in 2014. Victims generally were not allowed to leave the shelters unless accompanied by a chaperone. Authorities provided two million forints ($7,300) to an NGO for anti-trafficking efforts, including support for its shelters providing services to victims. Although the Office of Justice issued a protocol in 2015 for victim support professionals outlining specific guidelines for assisting child victims, the government did not implement specialized services for child trafficking victims. Child victims could receive general care through the child protection system, but experts reported this system did not have sufficient staff or resources to provide tailored care, leaving victims vulnerable to re-trafficking.
During the reporting period, authorities fined five adult sex trafficking victims for prostitution violations. Furthermore, authorities penalized 101 children, including 100 girls and one boy, for prostitution offenses despite being sex trafficking victims; 30 received a fine, and courts sentenced nine to imprisonment. Experts criticized the government’s lack of harmonized guidelines on protective services for victims, noting the referral system was ineffective. Inadequate government protection for victims who testified against traffickers was a concern; one child victim and one adult victim participated in the witness protection program. Foreign victims could receive a 30-day reflection period to decide whether to assist law enforcement, during which they were eligible for temporary residence permits while legal proceedings against their traffickers were ongoing. State compensation was available to indigent victims of crime who met specific criteria, including trafficking victims, but authorities did not report how many trafficking victims received this compensation in 2015.
The government sustained its prevention efforts. The government had an anti-trafficking coordinator who chaired the national coordination mechanism, an entity including government actors and civil society organizations. The government had a 2013-2016 anti-trafficking national strategy with specific instructions for implementation. Experts reported interagency coordination remained uneven. Authorities continued multiple awareness campaigns on human trafficking targeted at teenagers, which reached an estimated 125,000 primary and secondary school students. In August, the Ministry of Interior organized an event to raise awareness at an annual music festival for the fourth consecutive year; the campaign reached 1,376 people through questionnaires on trafficking. Authorities reported no efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor. The government provided anti-trafficking training for its diplomatic personnel.