The government maintained insufficient protection efforts, as specialized services for child victims (including shelter) did not exist and law enforcement arrested children exploited in commercial sex as misdemeanor offenders, including sentencing 12 children to imprisonment based on their involvement in commercial sex. The victim assistance service of the Office of Justice identified nine victims (five males and four females, including two minors), compared with eight victims in 2015. Of these, three were victims of forced labor in the construction industry, five of forced prostitution and one of domestic servitude. The victims received the following care services: one person received information on legal assistance, four persons received financial aid, and three persons received psychological assistance. The national crisis management and information service registered 23 victims (10 men and 13 women), compared with 27 in 2015. Fourteen of the 23 victims received shelter. The national bureau of investigation identified one victim and Hungarian embassies abroad identified a total of 11 victims. Therefore, in total, the government identified 44 victims during the reporting period. NGOs reported assisting approximately 143 trafficking victims—77 female victims, 26 male victims, 40 minors (including indirect victims).
The government did not adequately identify victims among vulnerable populations, such as adults and children exploited in commercial sex, adults who previously lived in and children living in government-run institutions, and unaccompanied minors seeking asylum. In addition, the government did not effectively screen unaccompanied minors to identify potential trafficking victims. 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. There was, however, a lack of clear legal definition and unified professional standards for identifying trafficking victims, as well as a lack of widespread dissemination of identification protocols among front-line responders. In early 2017, the government enacted a new asylum detention law that requires mandatory detention of all asylum-seekers until the final decision is issued in their cases; without proper screening, this may result in the detention of trafficking victims. During the reporting period, however, the government allocated 7 million forints ($23,830) to improve the screening of trafficking victims among third country nationals and asylum-seekers.
All victims were eligible for government-provided financial support, psychological services, legal assistance, witness care, access and referral to a shelter, however, victims were only eligible for state compensation if the crime was violent, committed deliberately, and caused serious damage to the victim’s health. Victim assistance services remained scarce, uncoordinated, and inadequate, and risk re-victimizing the victim. Authorities did not report how many trafficking victims received state-ordered restitution in 2016. Experts also criticized the government’s lack of harmonized guidelines on protective services for victims, noting the referral system was ineffective. Two government-funded, NGO-run shelters reported providing care for 64 victims (62 in 2015) during the reporting period, including 28 women (including one minor) and 11 adult men, as well as 25 dependent children accompanying adult victims. In addition, other NGOs provided housing for 40 female trafficking victims identified during the reporting period, nine male victims, two minor victims, as well as 12 dependent children. In 2016, the Ministry of Human Capacities developed a unified service protocol and set minimum standards for its human trafficking shelters. NGOs, however, noted a lack of trained staff, funding, and available accommodations and services, particularly for long-term needs such as reintegration. The government could provide Hungarians repatriated as trafficking victims with various victim support services and accommodation in shelters. These services, however, were insufficient because they did not provide victims with housing beyond six months and appropriate services for long-term reintegration were lacking. The Office of Justice issued a new protocol to provide practical guidance to local officials on the kinds of information to be provided to trafficking victims and guidance on avoiding secondary victimization.
Child victims could receive general care through the child protection system, but this system had insufficient staff or resources to provide tailored care or security, leaving victims vulnerable to being re-trafficked. Experts criticized the lack of assistance and specialized shelters for child trafficking victims. The government recognized repatriation of child victims is provided by state authorities but there were no appropriate reintegration facilities for children; secondary victimization of children was common. In 2016, the government set up a professional working group, including NGOs and relevant government agencies, to focus on research, protection, prevention, and victim assistance regarding child sex trafficking in state care institutions.
The government provided 19 million forints ($64,681, the same as 2015) to two NGO-run shelters in 2016 that could reserve a total of 16 beds for trafficking victims. Victims generally were not allowed to leave the shelters unless accompanied by a chaperone. Authorities provided 2 million forints ($6,809, the same as 2015) to another NGO to support its shelters providing services to trafficking victims. The government provided 1.5 million forint ($5,106) to support the operation of the national crises management and information telephone service, which can be used for reporting trafficking. There was a lack of sufficient funding for victim assistance services.
NGOs continued to report that authorities sometimes penalized adult and child sex trafficking victims treated as criminals as opposed to victims; reportedly courts ruled to reimburse the victims for the criminal penalties they received. Furthermore, authorities penalized 88 children, including 85 girls and three boys, for prostitution offenses; 42 children received a warning, 17 received a fine, 12 received prison sentences, 13 were sentenced to community service work, three were sentenced to confiscation, and there was no information on the penalty of one child. The government has consistently failed to implement a 2011 EU directive requiring individuals under 18 years of age involved in prostitution be considered as trafficking victims regardless of consent.
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 during legal proceedings against their traffickers. The government did not issue any temporary residence permits, permanent resident permits, or exemptions from deportation for trafficking victims during the reporting period. NGOs remained concerned about inadequate government protection for victims who testified against traffickers; no victims participated in the witness protection program during the reporting period.