Hungarian article

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Subject: Hungarian article
From: Migration Research (migration@free.fr)
Date: Thu Feb 10 2000 - 08:31:02 EST


Human smuggling drives up corruption

By Duncan Welch
 Feb. 10, 2000 - Vol. VIII, Is. 6

Reported corruption during 1999 was considerably higher than in 1998, but
crime in general did not increase, according to a report by the Chief Public
Prosecutor.

During 1999, the number of economic crimes and corruption cases rose by
40-50%, and the report indicated that the increase in economic crime was
largely the result of currency counterfeiting.

The trade of people across borders and the trafficking of aliens into the
country accounted for most of the increase in public corruption.

Corruption is one of the focus areas Hungary must work on in order to gain
membership of the EU, and so the Chief Public Prosecutor's Office report
will not sit well with EU officials.

Michael Lake, chief of the European Commission's delegation to Hungary, said
that officials must do more to improve border control efficiency, reduce
prison overcrowding, and combat organized crime and money laundering.

A representative for the Chief Public Prosecutor's Office said: "Cases of
corruption are difficult to investigate and the results hard to measure.
Corruption may have increased or the investigative methods may be more
effective.

"With the Ministry of Justice we have recommended greater regulation and
more stringent codes of conduct for officials," he added. Last year an
investigation was launched involving officials of the Mayor's Office of
Budapest, indicating that corruption is as much a part of the public sphere
as that of the private.

According to the report economic crimes caused damages of some Ft30.9
billion ($124 million), an increase of 14.5% from 1998.

Property crimes accounted for 70.8% of all reported criminal activity, with
damages of Ft80.7 billion ($323 million).

These figures come at a time when Csaba Hende, Parliamentary State Secretary
at the Ministry of Justice, has said the fight against crime is a priority
issue among the preparations for EU accession.

"Hungary is committed to joining all international accords aimed at reducing
corruption," he said.

He also spoke of how important it was to develop a legal environment to
reduce the opportunities for corruption in political, economic and everyday
life.

Oddly, Hungary's own figures are more dire than those in the most recent
report of Transparency International, a Berlin-based watchdog group that
rates countries around the world on how corrupt they are perceived to be. In
TI's 1999 ranking of the least corrupt countries, Hungary had advanced two
points to number 31, meaning it is perceived as one of the cleanest
countries in Central Europe, behind only Estonia and Slovenia. Carel Mohn, a
press officer at the International Secretariat of TI in Berlin, said the
group's figures are based on surveys in 14 emerging markets where people
were asked if corruption had increased with regards to foreign investment
and politicians over the last five years. "The survey's findings might not
match up with empirical findings," Mohn said.

 Copyright 1999 * The Budapest Sun * All rights reserved

Supplied by the Salamon Alapitvany


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