(Vatican Radio) Europe's top rights body has urged Hungary to investigate what it claims is rising human trafficking within the former Communist nation. The Council of Europe's warning has underscored concerns over the treatment of minority Gypsies, who prefer to be known as Roma, and the growing number of refugees here.
Click to listen to correspondent Stefan Bos’ report:
In a report, the Council's 'Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings' says "internal trafficking is a growing phenomenon," especially in Hungary's impoverished northeast region. It adds that Roma may represent as many 40 percent of the victims, "who suffer sexual or labor exploitation" or may be taken for "forced marriages".
Investigators say they based their finding on visits to Hungary in 2014. Many victims are children, says the Council. The report urges Hungary to set up a support framework for child victims and designate prosecutors specifically trained to deal with human trafficking. The report also appeals to authorities to increase the detection of possible victims of human trafficking among the increased number of asylum seekers and migrants. Already tens of thousands of people seeking asylum crossed Hungary's borders this year alone.
In a controversial move, Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán send a letter to eight million Hungarian adults as part of a "national consultation" on how to deal with the growing number of migrants in the country. It includes questions such as whether they should be detained, deported immediately, or first work to pay the costs of their deportation, and if there is a relationship between
migrants and terrorism. The questions, criticized by rights groups, have added to concerns among refugees who say they don't feel welcome here. "We are not terrorists, and we never [wanted to make] this kind of problem in Hungary" says a refugee in broken English. He does not want to be identified, apparently amid fears of repercussions.
"Asking these kind of questions from the public only spreads hatred among the people for the foreigners," he adds. "I really can't accept even the thinking of the government." Hungary is among countries opposing a plan by the European Commission, the European Union's executive, for EU member states to take in 40,000 asylum seekers from Syria and Eritrea, who arrived in Italy and Greece. Prime Minister Orbán, who faces a major challenge from the far-right Jobbik party, has called the quota plan "mad and unfair".