News/Hungary: Human Smuggling

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Subject: News/Hungary: Human Smuggling
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Wed Apr 12 2000 - 05:15:07 EDT


Edited/Distributed by HURINet - The Human Rights Information Network
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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.

The Budapest Sun
Melanie Orhant <<morhant@igc.org>>
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Stop-traffic is facilitated, international electronic list
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dealing with human rights abuses associated with trafficking
in persons, with an emphasis on public health and trafficking
in persons for forced labor, including forced prostitution,
sweatshop labor, domestic service and some coercive mail
order bride arrangements.
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