[Hungary] Hungarian authorities don’t protect migrant children from sexual abuse

10 Jun 2019
European Interest

According to a recent report adopted by the Committee of the Parties to the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, also known as the “Lanzarote Committee”, Hungary continues to fail to protect migrant children from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse in the transit zones located at the Serbian-Hungarian border.

Despite a few positive developments, such as the provision of trainings and the establishment of shaded areas, children continue to face unsuitable conditions in transit zones. Mérce reported that Bernadett Szél and Szabolcs Szabó, two independent Members of Parliament, witnessed that the “family section” of the transit zone, where tens of minors are held, is surrounded by wired fences.

According to the Committee report, unaccompanied children between the ages of 14 and 18 are treated as adults under immigration procedures and remain detained in fenced, open-air areas with containers for shelter. The children are also excluded from the Hungarian regular child protection system, which continues to increase the risk of sexual exploitation and abuse especially affecting girls.

The Hungarian authorities’ failure to address the issue is highlighted by the fact that they are unwilling to cooperate with the Serbian authorities and continue blocking the asylum-seekers entering the country.

As the nearby Károlyi István Children’s Home at Fót is expected to face closure by Hungarian authorities, it remains uncertain where the children would be accommodated.

The Hungarian Helsinki Committee urges the Hungarian authorities to take action concerning the protection of children’s rights by declaring that “children who have suffered so much, especially vulnerable children, need protection and security instead of more pain”.

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