Exchange of experience with counter-trafficking stakeholders in the UK

IOM Hungary's new project “UK-HU Transnational Cooperation on the Identification, Assistance and Referral of Victims of Trafficking in Human Beings funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) through the British Embassy in Budapest began with a study trip to London between 29 April and 2 May. From the Hungarian side, the National Police Headquarters, the Victim Support Service, the Hungarian Baptist Aid as well as the Salvation Army delegated experts to the exchange programme.

On the first day, they met IOM UK as well as Justin Bedford, FCDO’s Modern Slavery Envoy. This was followed by consultations with the local Salvation Army, its sub-contractors under the Modern Slavery Victim Care Contract and the Modern Slavery Helpline. The delegation spent the third day at the Home Office, where they reviewed the trends and experiences related to Hungarian victims with the law enforcement, border management and immigration authorities, then the programme ended next morning at the Hungarian consulate.

The conversations revealed that the anti-trafficking professionals of two countries are in the same boat in several respects: care for victims with special needs (e.g. drug users), financial compensation, and the high rate of victimization among minors also cause difficulties in the UK. These similarities underline the importance of the exchange of experience. It can be considered a particularly good practice on the British side that victims are assisted throughout the entire process of criminal proceedings by a specially trained victim navigator, while the institutional system is supervised by an independent anti-slavery commissioner.

Making the return of Hungarian victims more transparent and efficient can be the main achievement of the cooperation that has just begun. To this end, the Hungarian and British experts were examining the process for victims repatriated upon identification in the framework of border control risk assessment, which will be discussed further in the coming months under the lead of IOM Hungary.

The bilateral relations will be deepened in several other directions too: at an online workshop planned for early June the widest range of Hungarian stakeholders will have the opportunity to introduce themselves, while IOM Hungary is conducting a rapid landscape analysis and a stakeholder mapping based on a desk research as well as the personal consultations.