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Hungary has made progress in the fight against human trafficking by following recommendations made earlier by the Council of Europe, an expert body of the council has said.

Taking the CoE’s advice, Hungary has implemented measures to expand professional groups that can officially identify victims of trafficking as well as its comprehensive legal and professional victim support services, the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) said in a fresh report.

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The report welcomed Hungary ‘s establishment of new victim support centres which provide psychological assistance and help prepare victims for their role in the criminal proceedings.

GRETA also welcomed the entry of new provisions into the Criminal Procedure Code to improve the protection of witnesses and victims. It also mentioned the creation of a database of presumed victims of human trafficking as a positive step in the right direction. However, the body urged Hungarian authorities to take all necessary steps to further develop the database and make it fully operational in order to be able to compile comprehensive and coherent statistical data on human trafficking.

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The experts said that despite the progress achieved, some issues gave rise to concern. GRETA urged the Hungarian authorities to strengthen their efforts in the area of prevention of child trafficking, especially by more efficient identification and support to minors among migrants and the system of control for people working in the sector must be strengthened. It also urged sensitising and training staff working with children, and informing minors of the dangers posed by human trafficking and the methods in use.

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In line with the report, legal regulations that criminalise the promotion of illegal migration should not be applied in a way that hinders the work of civil organisations helping victims of human trafficking. Additionally, organisations working in the field should not be banned from working near the Hungarian border because this makes it impossible for them to identify and help victims in transit zones.

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GRETA urged repealing legislation allowing the imposition of administrative fines on children engaged in prostitution and instructing police officers to consider all children (including those 14-18 years of age) who are engaged in prostitution as victims, including possible victims of trafficking rather than as offenders.

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