Trends in human trafficking

Hungary is a country of origin and transit for victims of trafficking within the European Union. According to the TIP Report published in the USA in 2015 ‘Hungarians constituted 18 percent of total victims identified in trafficking investigations by EUROPOL between 2009 and 2013’ in Europe, which means almost every fifth identified victim in this time period was Hungarian.

In Hungary most sexually exploited victims are also women, but there is a lot of Hungarian girls who are working as prostitutes in the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany and Austria.

Hungarian men and women are subjected to forced labour domestically and abroad, including in the United Kingdom (UK), the Netherlands, other European countries (especially Switzerland and Germany), and North America.

hun.jpgAt the same time, national trafficking is also a growing phenomenon which concerns especially the poorest areas of the country such as Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County, Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County (northeastern part of Hungary) and Baranya County (southwestern part of Hungary). Tolna, Baranya County (south-western part of Hungary) and Békés County (southeastern part of Hungary) are also significant source regions. In the counties on the map indicated in red the unemployment rate is also very high, which is one of the reasons for victimization.

The vast majority of identified victims in the countries of the European Union are said to be Hungarian and appear to have been subjected to sexual exploitation and labour exploitation. There are some signs of human trafficking cases related to drug-smuggling. According to the Hungarian authorities, there are indications that Hungary is also to some extent a country of destination from Eastern countries, but there is currently not enough data to substantiate this information.

Over the last decade the phenomenon of sexual exploitation has grown, both domestically and following EU accession in the EU countries too.

These victims are (like in Belgium and in the Netherlands) mostly single, under-educated young women (between 18-25) with a very poor and disadvantaged family background. We have to emphasise that every case is different and there are some clearly defined characteristics:

  • these women have a baby (who stays in Hungary while they are working abroad, and this is one of the main reasons for taking the job)
  • in some cases these women were sold to the traffickers to obtain money (especially in the Northeastern part of Hungary)
  • sometimes they agree to work as a prostitute (or they might work as such in Hungary too) abroad, because of a better salary, but the reality in other European countries is very different. They are beaten, their identification documents are taken from them, the working conditions are very bad, they do not get the money they were promised.

Sometimes these victims apply for an advertised job in the erotic services industry (massage, dance, escort services, but not prostitution) or to work in the building industry, to carry out agricultural labour, etc.) to get a better life and a well-paid job abroad. They are only given a ‘verbal agreement’ about their working conditions, expectations but they have no information about the reality. Without a contract these victims are in very bad situations abroad: they are afraid to ask for help from the local law enforcement authorities, they do not have any information about their rights and opportunities, they do not speak the language of the country, or even know how to get there.

Institutional background

The framework for combating human trafficking was laid down by the Government Resolution 1018/2008 on the National Strategy against trafficking in human beings in Hungary. It established a National Coordination Mechanism (NCM) against human trafficking and appointed a national anti-trafficking coordinator.

‘The National Anti-Trafficking Coordinator is the Deputy State Secretary for EU and International Relations in the Ministry of Interior. The National Anti-Trafficking Coordinator’s main role is to enhance Hungary’s counter trafficking efforts and to facilitate interaction between different State and non-State organisations in relation to the fight against human trafficking. The National Anti-Trafficking Coordinator represents Hungary’s anti human trafficking response both at national, at European and international level’.

The national coordinator chairs the meeting of the National Coordination Mechanism which is the main forum of cooperation among the relevant organisations in Hungary. Organizations involved in trafficking issues and the fight against trafficking for sexual and labour exploitation purposes include the institutions which are members of the National Coordination Mechanism.

Alongside the National Coordination Mechanism, the NGO Roundtable was established in December 2011 and is also chaired by the National Coordinator. Non-Governmental Organisations which support the victims of different types of human trafficking can attend the meetings on a voluntary basis.

Members of the National Coordination Mechanism were/are involved in sharing information, opportunities, the organization of training courses, workshops, awareness campaigns, assistance, the identification and referral of victims, projects, maintaining a shelter, expanding the capacity of the shelter and setting up a new shelter.