Council of Europe children’s rights experts concluded today a three-day visit to Hungary to evaluate risks of sexual abuse and exploitation faced by migrant children placed in transit zones. Their report is expected in October.
Hungarian authorities invited Lanzarote Committee Chair Claude Janizzi and representatives of the committee to visit Hungary, following a letter that Janizzi had sent to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in March, in which he expressed concerns that a new Hungarian law – “On the amendment of certain acts related to increasing the strictness of procedures carried out in the areas of border management” – could increase the risks of sexual abuse of migrant children.
The Hungarian government in its reply reiterated that the new rules were applied only during a crisis situation, and that unaccompanied migrant children aged 14-18 placed in transit zones were provided legal guardians who are trained and experienced in child protection, victim protection and guardianship. According to the government replies, these children also receive three meals a day, health care, clothes, education and can freely practice religion; social workers are present 24/7 in the transit zones, and unaccompanied children in the transit zones are placed separately from adults.
The Hungarian government invited representatives of the Lanzarote Committee to evaluate, first-hand, the situation of children in both the Röszke and Tompa transit zones. During the visit to the zones, the delegation paid particular attention to the age determination procedures and possible prevention measures to lower the risks of falling victims of sexual abuse that unaccompanied children, as well as children accompanied by family members can encounter. The Council of Europe experts also looked at whether there are mechanisms in place to detect sexual abuse and sexual exploitation suffered before entering the Hungarian territory, whether these children can resort, if need be, to therapeutic and other assistance, and, in particular, whether they receive information on their rights as possible victims.