HUNGARY: Tier 2
Hungary is a source, transit, and 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. Women and children, particularly Roma, are subjected to sex trafficking within the country and abroad, mostly within Europe—with particularly high numbers estimated in the Netherlands and Switzerland. A large number of Hungarian sex trafficking victims exploited within the country and abroad, especially Roma, come from state-provided childcare institutions and correctional facilities; many of them are underage and recruited by traffickers while living in such facilities or soon after leaving. 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 (UK), the Netherlands, other European countries, and North America. There are strong indicators labor trafficking of Hungarian men in Western Europe has intensified in sectors such as agriculture, construction, and in factories. Hungarians constituted 18 percent of total victims identified in trafficking investigations by EUROPOL between 2009 and 2013. Trafficking victims from Eastern European countries transit Hungary en route to Western Europe. During the year, the government identified six Chinese women as trafficking victims. Within the country, Hungarian Romani children are exploited in forced begging, child sex trafficking, and forced petty crime; experts report Hungary is a destination country for foreign children, mainly from Romania, exploited in these forms of trafficking.
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. Authorities maintained efforts to investigate trafficking cases and increased funds to NGOs that could shelter victims. Data collection on trafficking remained problematic and the number of reported prosecutions and convictions decreased from the previous year. Shortcomings in security and services at state care institutes for children remained widespread, resulting in high vulnerability of children under state protection during or after their time in these facilities. Victim assistance remained weak, and funding for anti-trafficking efforts remained inadequate.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR HUNGARY:
Increase funding for and provision of specialized victim services and provide consistent funding to NGOs to offer victim care; address the vulnerability of children residing in state-run child institutions and individuals who leave these institutions; 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; increase proactive identification of and assistance for child victims exploited within Hungary; strengthen law enforcement efforts against all forms of trafficking; bolster protection for victims who face serious harm and retribution from their traffickers, including by developing longer-term care options to improve reintegration; enhance the collection and reporting of reliable law enforcement and victim protection data; and increase victim-centered training of law enforcement, prosecutors, and social workers.
The government maintained law enforcement efforts against human trafficking, though 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 criminalizes many forms of human trafficking, but is overly broad because it does not require the use of force, the 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. 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, 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 2014 police initiated 10 forced labor investigations and 10 other trafficking investigations, compared with six forced labor investigations and 15 other trafficking investigations started in 2013. Officials prosecuted 18 individuals, including at least one for forced labor, compared with 37 individuals prosecuted in 13 cases in 2013. The government did not report how many investigations or prosecutions, if any, involved child sex trafficking. Hungarian courts convicted 10 traffickers in 2014, compared with 16 sex traffickers convicted in 2013. Sentences ranged from no jail time or suspended sentences to 42 months’ imprisonment. National police investigated only transnational trafficking cases, and local police investigated internal cases; NGOs criticized local police for lack of sensitivity toward trafficking cases. 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 prostitution. Experts also reported police did not proactively investigate or remained reluctant to investigate certain trafficking cases involving child victims. The national police released an order in 2014 requiring police to strengthen anti-trafficking efforts, including by increasing proactive cooperation with NGOs, churches and state offices assisting with victims; increasing anti-trafficking awareness; further fostering international cooperation in human trafficking investigations; and paying special attention to child trafficking victims. There were no reported investigations, prosecutions, or convictions for official complicity; in the previous reporting period a police officer was convicted of facilitating prostitution. 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 17 individuals accused of trafficking to other European countries.
The government made uneven protection efforts; funding for victim services was inadequate and specialized services for child victims did not exist. 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. Justice officials identified 20 victims, including eight sex trafficking victims and 10 labor trafficking victims; Ministry of Human Capacity officials reported 19 victims, including three children; and foreign ministry officials reported five victims identified in Austria and that UK officials had identified 55 potential Hungarian victims. NGOs reported identifying 76 trafficking victims—62 women and 14 men—seven of whom were referred by officials. In comparison, in 2013, the government identified a total of 133 trafficking victims through the national referral mechanism, 59 of who were identified abroad by Hungarian consular officials. NGOs reported officials did not appropriately screen people in prostitution—including children—for trafficking victimization, resulting in victims being treated as criminals instead of being identified as victims. The government did not demonstrate efforts to identify victims among vulnerable populations, such as children in prostitution or in government-run institutions.
The provision of victim assistance was low, despite the existence of a victim referral mechanism. 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. For Hungarian victims abroad, only those residing abroad legally were eligible for services. Only Hungarian citizens or foreign victims with the right of free movement and residence in Hungary were eligible for shelter. Of victims identified by justice officials, authorities provided financial support to 11 victims; psychological services to four; legal assistance to one; and referral to a shelter to only one victim. The government provided eight million forints ($30,800) to an NGO-run family shelter in 2014 that could reserve eight beds for trafficking victims for a renewable 90-day period and allocated six million forints ($23,170) for a new family shelter run by the same NGO that could accommodate eight victims. Victims generally were not allowed to leave the shelters unless accompanied by a chaperone. Authorities provided 3 million forints ($10,800) to an NGO for anti-trafficking efforts, including support for its shelters providing services to victims. Government funding was insufficient for the operation of NGO shelters that housed a total of 55 adult female victims and eight adult male victims in 2014. Specialized services for child trafficking victims were nonexistent. 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.
Inadequate government protection for victims who testified against traffickers was a concern; only one trafficking victim participated in the witness protection program. Foreign victims could receive a 30-day reflection period to decide to assist law enforcement, during which they were eligible for temporary residence permits while legal proceedings against their traffickers were ongoing. The government did not provide immigration relief to any victims in 2014. Police reportedly penalized child victims for crimes committed as a result of being subjected to trafficking. 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 2014.
The government sustained some prevention efforts. The government had an anti-trafficking coordinator who chaired the national coordination mechanism, an entity including government actors, and an NGO roundtable, which included civil society organizations. Both forums met twice in 2014. The government had a 2013-2016 anti-trafficking national strategy with specific instructions for implementation. Experts reported interagency coordination remained uneven. Authorities continued an awareness campaign on human trafficking and domestic violence targeted at teenagers, as well as other awareness efforts. Authorities reported no efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor. The government provided anti-trafficking training or guidance for its diplomatic personnel.