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    Hungary is primarily a source country of victims of human trafficking. Arising from its geographical situation Hungary it a transit country of illegal migration, it lays in the crossroad of east-western and south-eastern migration.

    Sexual exploitation is the most common form of trafficking in persons, however all other forms can be identified. The main destination countries of Hungary are the Netherlands, Germany, Austria and Switzerland but in 2012 new information became available about the United Kingdom as a more popular destination among the perpetrators.

    Within the country the exploitation of victims is concentrated in the capital and its surroundings, around Lake Balaton and along the Austrian border.

    The main reason for victimization is acute poverty. The victims’ majority is adult and Hungarian nationals. Regarding the groups at risk of trafficking it can be established that the low educated young adults – mostly women – in East, North Eastern Hungary are the most vulnerable. They are easily trapped by false promises of very well paid easy jobs which do not require any special skills. Prostitution appears to be the easiest way to getting out of poverty, over-indebtedness, deprivation for the poorest sections of the population who expect high wages and better circumstances in the destination countries.

    Regarding the perpetrators we can mention that they have a major informal relationship with the victims and in many cases a family relationship. They are often recidivist offenders. Regarding the modus operandi of recruitment false promises of the well paid job is much more common than drastic methods.

    THB is prohibited in Hungary since 1999- All forms of trafficking are included in paragraph 175 B of the Hungarian Penal Code Criminal Code. The New Criminal Code of Hungary was passed by the Hungarian Parliament on 25 June 2012 and will enter into force on 1 July 2013. The New Criminal Code incorporates the criminal offence of trafficking in human beings which was harmonized with the Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2011 on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/629/JHA and with the legal provisions of the Palermo Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially woman and children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.

    A summary of this  text is also available in the official language of the country.




    All forms of trafficking in human beings are prohibited. The specific offence of trafficking in persons has existed since 1998, under crimes against personal freedom and human dignity. In 2002, the relevant section of the Criminal Code (rtt. 175 B) was modified to adhere to international standards.

    Penalties prescribed in the Criminal Code range from three years to life imprisonment, which are commensurate with those prescribed for other grave crimes, such as rape.

    There are a number of other important acts related to human trafficking in Hungary, in particular:  

    • The Act on Protection of Witnesses created the Victim Protection Program. This includes moving a witness to a protected residence and also altering their identity.
    • The Act on Support and Compensation of Victims specifies the right to legal, social, financial and psychological assistance for victims of human trafficking. Article 9/A and Article 43(3) transposed sections 5 and 6 of the Council Directive 2004/81/EC (on the residence permit issued to third-country nationals who are victims of trafficking in human beings or who have been the subject of an action to facilitate illegal immigration, who cooperate with the competent authorities). 
    • The Act on Entry and Stay of Third Country Nationals, which entered into force on 1st July 2007, is one of the most important tools for supporting victims of trafficking. The Act enables victims to stay in Hungary for a reflection period of one month. If they decide to cooperate with the law enforcement authorities, a residence permit on humanitarian grounds will be granted.


    National Strategy/National Action Plan

    Hungary’s National Strategy against Trafficking in Human Beings (2008-2012)entered into force in April 2008. The strategy aims to develop a victim-oriented approach, coordinated action against trafficking, and regular monitoring and evaluation of the national situation.

    Moreover, the National Strategy established the position of the National Coordinator against trafficking in human beings, who is responsible for the coordination, implementation and monitoring of the Strategy as well as for coordinating counter-trafficking activities among various governmental authorities and NGOs.


    Coordination of anti-trafficking actions at a national level

    The position of a National Coordinator was established in 2008 as a result of the National Strategy. The position is held by the State Secretary of the Ministry of Justice and Law Enforcement.

    The National Coordinator manages the work of the National Counter-Trafficking Coordination Mechanism, which is composed of representatives from government agencies and from non-governmental and international organisations. Additionally, the coordinator monitors the actions, successes and challenges in the fight against human trafficking in Hungary. 

     The Coordinator reports annually to the Government on the steps taken during the year and on remaining challenges.

    The Anti-Trafficking Coordinator is Ms Krisztina Berta, Deputy State Secretary for EU and International Affairs.


    National Rapporteur or equivalent mechanisms

    The National Coordinator acts as equivalent mechanism to a National Rapporteur.


    The most important challenges at national level

    Due to the 2011/36/EU Directive we have to make large efforts in the field of THB. Main challenges are the following:

    • to elaborate the regular, multidisciplinary trainings for professionals;
    • to develop the national data collection mechanisms with better use of existing indicator systems;
    • to broaden the cooperation with the governmental and non-governmental organizations.


    Efforts to prevent human trafficking in Hungary have included awareness raising campaigns as well as training for officials. For example:

    • In 2009, the Hungarian government launched a campaign focused on demand reduction, targeting potential customers of victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation. It was coordinated by the Ministry of Justice and Law Enforcement and the National Police Headquarters in cooperation with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Budapest.
    • In 2007, the National Institute of Criminology began work on an interdisciplinary research project called 'Risks of international migration in Europe'. The project was intended to assess the risk factors connected to migration flows, and to develop guidelines to decrease the risk of illegal migration. The publication includes a thorough study on the profiles of Hungarian THB victims and offenders. The research was published in 2008.
    • In November 2008 the Hungarian Judicial Academy held a two day course on the trafficking of persons for criminal judges who handle cases of human trafficking. There were also trainings for consular officers to improve recognition of victims of human trafficking. The government also provided anti-trafficking training to Hungarian troops prior to deployment for international peacekeeping missions.

    Assistance and support provided to victims

    In 2005, a referral system for victims of trafficking was introduced in Hungary when a non-governmental organisation was commissioned to manage a shelter for victims of trafficking (due to security reasons, the NGO can be consulted via OKIT). The shelter, in close cooperation with the National Crisis Management and Information Telephone Service (OKIT), uses a twenty-four hour telephone hotline run by the National Institute for Family and Social Policy, which refers victims to the shelter. The shelter provides assistance to victims of trafficking, including shelter for up to six months. If necessary, after this period the victim can be transferred to other social care facilities providing reintegration services.

    This non-governmental organization provided assistance and shelter services to 75 victims who had been involved in trafficking in human beings in the period 1 April 2008 – 1 February 2009.

    According to the information provided by the Consular Service in 2008, 16 persons were identified as victims of trafficking by the consulates abroad.  In all these cases, the consular offices provided the victims with travel documents to return to Hungary. In three of the cases the victims were referred to the Hungarian shelter. At the end of 2009 a second shelter started its operation. The United States Department of State Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report 2010 states that the second shelter will only provide assistance to Hungarian victims of human trafficking.

    Residence permit

    Victims of trafficking are offered a 30 day reflection period to decide whether to assist law enforcement. Victims may apply for a six month temporary residence permit if they choose to cooperate with law enforcement.

    Special protective measures for children

    The Office of Immigration and Nationality opened a special Centre for Unattended Minors for child victims of trafficking and migrant smuggling in January 2008. The Centre consults the National Bureau of Investigation on a regular basis in order to help investigations in cases involving minors. The children are primarily from Africa, Pakistan, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Palestinian territories and Sri Lanka.

    Investigation and prosecution

    Hungary’s law enforcement efforts are based on the law enforcement Action Plan against trafficking in persons, introduced in 2005. Building on this, the National Police and the county police headquarters have developed internal strategies to deal with prostitution and trafficking in human beings. The Action Plan was jointly implemented by the Ministry of the Interior, the National Police (ORFK), the former Border Guards and the Office of Immigration and Nationality (BÁH).

    Special units

    The National Investigation Bureau is a special unit under the National Police responsible for handling cases of trafficking in human beings, terrorism, drug trafficking, money-laundering and other serious and organised crimes. Twenty officers were assigned full-time to work on human trafficking cases in 2007.

    Latest number of prosecutions or convictions

    According to the 2010 US TIP Report, the police and border guards conducted 27 trafficking investigations in 2009. Authorities prosecuted 16 traffickers in 2009, and convictions were obtained against 23 sex trafficking offenders.  The government did not report any prosecutions or convictions for labour trafficking offences. Twenty of 23 convicted offenders were sentenced to time in prison. Of those sentenced to prison, 12 convicted offenders received sentences of up to three years’ imprisonment, three offenders received sentences ranging from three to four years’ imprisonment, and five offenders received sentences of five years’ imprisonment.

    The April 2010 ICMPD study assessing the extent of different types of trafficking in human beings in EU countries reported 45 identified victims in Hungary in 2007 and 88 in 2008. The study reported that in 2008 there were 88 investigated criminal THB cases, with 18 convictions and in 2007 a total of 48 investigations with 17 persons convicted.

    Latest initiatives/activities related to anti-trafficking policy

    Hungary aims at strengthening its efforts in relation to the following aspects of countering human trafficking.

    • National Strategy against Trafficking in Human Beings (2008-2012) expired in 2012. Hungary’s new National Strategy against Trafficking in Human Beings is under development in the framework of a large scale project. All concerned parties are involved in the preparation, namely Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Human Resources, National Headquarters of the Hungarian Police, National Crisis Management and Information Service, National Bureau of Investigation, Office of Public Administration and Justice, Metropolitan Court, Office of the Prosecutor General, National University of Public Service, National Institute of Criminology Hungary. In the framework of the National Coordination Mechanism and NGO Roundtable – which include the relevant governmental and non-governmental bodies concerned in human trafficking – all parties were asked to share their ideas, proposals related to the New Strategy. The strategy is expected to be accepted in May, it will be in accordance with the international requirements. It works on the basis of the former National Strategy, the EU Strategy against trafficking in human beings and takes into account the National Action Plans and Strategies of other EU Member States. It defines realistic priorities, objectives and action plan in order to realize its vision: Hungary will fight against all forms of trafficking in persons effectively as a reliable partner, respecting human rights, non-discriminatory, paying particular attention on the protection of children. Particular emphasis will be taken on practice-oriented actions.
    • To strengthen victims support: under the ISEC General Call in the framework of “Prevention of and Fight against Crime” an application was submitted on 6th March 2013 in relation to enhancing victim assistance at a theoretical and practical level. The partners of the project will be the Netherlands and Belgium. The project covers the establishment of a Transnational Referral Mechanism between Hungary and its destination countries covering victims of trafficking for sexual and labour exploitation. The project fits into priority A action 1 of the EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings which calls for the establishment of a Transnational Referral Mechanism and will help Member States provide the assistance to victims required by the EU anti-trafficking directive 2011/36/EU.
    • Hungary takes part in the project “Integrated approach for Prevention of Labor exploitation in origin and destination countries” with Romania. The project’s general objective is to decrease the dimensions of trafficking in persons for labor exploitation in origin, transit and destination countries. In the framework of the project a regional seminar will be organized in the end of March for Hungarian experts and a prevention campaign will take place.
    • In the framework of the project Capacity Building for Combating Trafficking for Labor Exploitation a Training on Combating Trafficking for Labor Exploitation: Identifying Victims, Investigating Cases, Prosecuting Offenders took place on 19-22 November 2012 in the Ministry of Interior. The objective of the training was to provide participants of the target and destination countries with more knowledge on the topic of trafficking in persons for labor exploitation; to discuss existing practices in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases and share lessons learned; to expand the network of professionals dealing with the issue at hand; to equip participants with practical tools they can use in their daily work on investigating and prosecuting trafficking cases.

    National Referral Mechanism

    The National Referral Mechanism has been in operation since 2008. On the basis that trafficked persons are victims of a highly traumatising crime, and thus have special needs, they are entitled to safe accommodation, health screening and counselling in a safe shelter maintained for trafficked persons. The operation of the shelter is based on a Framework Agreement between relevant State and non-State actors; it is run by an NGO that contracted the Ministry of National Resources. The contract provides the funds necessary for the NGO to run the shelter and provides the Ministry with the right to monitor and evaluate the operation of the shelter.

    The trafficked person is referred to the shelter as soon as practicable, regardless of any victim identification made at a later stage by Victim Assistance Service (VAS).

    On the basis that the victims of trafficking are crime victims, they are also entitled to the services of the VAS. In relation to the services of the VAS (as mentioned above) a victim is the injured party of a crime or another person that suffered damage as a direct consequence of a crime. Damage includes physical or mental injury; psychological suffer and financial damage.

    These services do not differ based on the immigration status of the victim of human trafficking. The legal background of these services is the Victims Assistance Act.

    Services provided to third country nationals identified as victims of human traffickingcomplement the above ones on the basis that a third country national that is identified as victims of human trafficking received temporary residence permission on humanitarian grounds. The services aim at meeting the special needs of third country national victims in relation to social integration or voluntary return.

    In the event the VAS identifies the person as a victim of human trafficking who needs the Certificate of Temporary Stay for the Duration of the Recovery and Reflection Period (Certificate), as he/she has no other grounds to remain in the State, the VAS immediately requests the issuance of the Certificate at Office of Immigration and Naturalisation (OIN).  The OIN is not entitled to examine the grounds on which the VAS requested the issuance; it has to issue the certificate.  The certificate is valid for a non-renewable one month period during which the victim can decide whether he/she wishes to cooperate with the authorities. The OIN issues the certificate within 30 days from the receipt of the request.

    The temporary residence permit on humanitarian grounds for victims of human trafficking that cooperate with investigative and criminal justice authorities in a way that helps making the crime out (TRP) is issued by OIN upon the request of the Police/Prosecutor/Court. The TRP is valid for six months and can be renewed multiple times for further six months as long as the criminal procedure is ongoing.

    In relation to Hungarian citizens encountered outside Hungary, it should be noted that their formal identification is conducted in accordance with the NRM rules of the country of destination. In many cases these victims spend months or even years abroad in the victim assistance system of the country of destination, which obviously influences what services need to be provided by the Hungarian organisations and what actions need to betaken by Hungarian authorities.

    The Hungarian organisations come into play when the victim wishes to return to Hungary. In this event the investigative authority, the support organisation or IOM contact either their counterparts in Hungary or the Hungarian consular service in the country of destination. If the victim does not have own means to cover the cost of the return the consular service may facilitate their return to Hungary by way of a consular loan. In practice this usually means that the consulate books the ticket for the victim. After the victim’s arrival to Hungary the assistance process of persons encountered in Hungary kicks in.


    The Hungarian authorities have for several years collaborated with the International Organization for Migration's Regional Mission for Central and South Eastern Europe in Budapest. They jointly implemented a variety of services and changes in the areas of law enforcement, prevention and assistance to victims of trafficking.

    In previous years, cooperation was achieved with International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD). As a part of this cooperation, the Ministry of Justice and Law Enforcement participated in the EU funded project 'Transnational referral mechanism for victims of trafficking in human beings-TRM EU'. Other partners in this project are Italy, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, the Czech Republic and Portugal. The project, which lasted from 2008 to February 2010, aimed to map the existing legal and institutional background and the mechanisms of victim referral.

    Future plans in terms of implementation of the directive 2011/36/EU

    The harmonization of the Criminal Code to the requirements set out in the Directive is underway. Hungary has already accomplished its implementation obligations deriving from the Directive. The new Criminal Code entering into force in the beginning of July 2013 contains a new statutory definition of trafficking in human beings offence. This definition complies with the legal provisions of the Palermo Protocol, No. 197. Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the above mentioned Directive since it focuses on exploitation instead of the one in force which requires proof that a victim is bought or sold.

    According to the implementation processes Hungary is ready for the ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking.

    Besides of this specific provisions of Act CXXXV of 2005 on Crime Victim Support and State Compensation (Ást.) have been amended therefore victims of trafficking in human beings independently from their cooperation in criminal proceedings are entitled to services.

    Government applies regulation on the national victim referral system which is of general scope and obligatory for all responsible authorities, it laid down the system of the authorities’ cooperation. (Government Regulation No 354/2012 of 13 December 2012 on the identification system of victims trafficking in human beings.)


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