Last year, 81 cases of human trafficking were officially registered by the Hungarian government, which means a significant increase compared to the 30 victims reported in 2018. According to the U.S. State Department, Hungary has made progress in the fight against human trafficking, but some inadequacies can be identified in certain areas, such as in the case of asylum-seekers and children in state-run institutions.

Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP Report) is an annual report issued by the U.S. State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. The first TIP Report was published in 2001, and it can be considered the world’s most comprehensive resource of global anti-trafficking efforts. The Department ranks each country in tiers based on the extent and effectiveness of government efforts for the elimination of human trafficking. 4 tiers can be distinguished: tier1 (best), tier2, and tier3.

Compared to last year, Hungary’s rank was upgraded one tier, from tier3 watchlist to tier2,

which means that the country’s government does not meet the minimum standards in all respects, but it is making more efforts to do so compared to the previous reporting period, Index wrote.

The report specifically addressed the vulnerability of refugees and those waiting in transit zones, which have since been closed down.

The government increased victim identification, but it failed to adequately screen vulnerable populations or provide sufficient resources for victim services.

Although children in the transit zones, including unaccompanied minors, are potential victims, they do not receive adequate attention or have access to specialised services. Victims have been exposed to the risk of re-victimisation due to scarce, uncoordinated, and inadequate victim assistance services.

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Experts argued that child victims, especially in state-run homes or orphanages, did not receive proper assistance and specialised services in Hungary. They are vulnerable to trafficking, both while living in the homes and after their departure. In some cases, people exploited in sex trafficking, including children, were treated by law enforcement as criminals rather than victims.

Hungarians in extreme poverty, undereducated young adults, Roma people, single mothers, asylum-seekers, unaccompanied minors, and the homeless are particularly vulnerable to traffickers.

“Traffickers exploit Hungarian women, boys, and girls in sex trafficking within the country and abroad, mostly within Europe, with particularly high numbers in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom (UK).”

The report further expressed increasing concern about labour exploitation, mainly in rural areas. Hungarian men often become the victims of traffickers in agriculture, construction, and factories, particularly in Belgium, the UK, and the Netherlands. The report mentions a case when 150 cases of forced labour were identified in a village of 16,000 inhabitants.

According to the U.S. State Department, the Hungarian government should focus more on pinpointing and helping victims of human trafficking, especially among the vulnerable groups. It should also increase the quality and availability of specialised victim services for adults and children. The report suggested that people working in law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, and social workers should receive extensive victim-centred and trauma-informed training.

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