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Government Support: Hungary
Government Assistance to Victims
The Victim Support Service in Hungary is not dedicated merely to assisting victims of terrorism, but victims of any kind of crime in general. The Hungarian Victim Support Service (VSS) has been operational since January 1, 2006, the day the Act CXXXV of 2005 on Crime Victim Support and State Compensation (Victim Support Act of 2005) entered into force. The VSS is currently operating within a two-level institutional framework. On the basic level, there are 20 regional offices, whereas the Victim Support Unit of the Office of Public Administration and Justice (Hungarian acronym is KIH) is acting on the second level as a central agency with nationwide competence, located in Budapest. KIH also provides methodological and professional guidance and control over the county located justice services.
According to Victim Support Act of 2005, a person is considered a victim if he/she is an injured party of a crime (either felony or misdemeanour) committed in the territory of Hungary. A natural person can also be considered a victim of crime if he/she suffered injury as a direct consequence of a criminal act, in particular physical or emotional harm, mental shock or economic loss. Victims of terrorism are definitely considered as victims of crime. The aim of victim support is to mitigate the social, moral and pecuniary injuries of victims whose quality of life has been endangered due to a criminal act. Victim support services are available for victims of every type of crimes, though only victims of violent intentional crimes may be eligible for state compensation.
There are two main pillars of support for victims of crimes. One is the state compensation and the other is called victim support services. The latter contains the provision of help for assertion of interests, grant instant monetary aid, as well as of legal assistance. Also, there is shelter accommodation for victims of trafficking in human beings.
Legal Resources available to Victims
According the Act XIX of 1998 on the criminal procedure (CPA), an aggrieved party, substitute private prosecutor, private party, other interested party as well as the representatives thereof are participants of the criminal proceedings.
The aggrieved party is a person whose right or lawful interest has been violated or jeopardized by the criminal offence. The aggrieved party shall be entitled to:
a) be present at the procedural actions, unless provided otherwise by the CPA, and to inspect the documents of the proceedings affecting him/her;
b) make motions and comments at any stage of the procedure;
c) receive information from the court, the prosecutor and the investigating authority concerning his/her rights and obligations during the criminal procedure;
d) file for legal remedy in the cases specified in the CPA.
In connection with terrorism, the aggrieved party may act as substitute private prosecutor or private party, depending on the circumstances of the concrete case.
Aggrieved party may act as a substitute private prosecutor if
a) the prosecutor or the investigating authority rejected the report or terminated the investigation;
b) the prosecutor partly set aside the indictment;
c) the prosecutor dropped the charge;
d) as a result of the investigation, the prosecutor did not establish the commission of any criminal offence that should be prosecuted based on public prosecution, consequently neither he/she filed an indictment, nor did he/she take over the representation of the indictment as a result of an investigation ordered in a procedure initiated by private prosecution;
e) the prosecutor dropped the charge at trial because in his judgment, the criminal offence should not be prosecuted based on public prosecution.
Pursuant to the CPA, the aggrieved party shall be considered as a private part, whenever he/she enforces civil claims in criminal proceedings.
The aggrieved party – unless CPA requires personal cooperation – may also exercise his/her respective rights by way of a representative.
The so-called supporter is a person appointed by the guardianship authority for the aggrieved party, private party or the witness. The supporter may act in a way as it is stipulated by the CPA.
Until the conclusion of investigation, the aggrieved party as well as his/her representative may receive a copy of expert opinions and documents produced during those investigative actions in which their presence is authorized by the CPA; or of other documents, provided that this does not infringe the interest of the investigation. The aggrieved party may receive a copy of other documents produced in the course of investigation after being questioned as a witness.
The aggrieved party and his/her supporter may be present at the expert hearing, inspection, evidentiary reconstruction of events, and presentation for identification. The aggrieved party may make motions and comments and may ask questions from the expert.
In addition, the aggrieved party may inspect the expert opinions produced during the investigation as well as other documents, provided this does not infringe the interests of the investigation.
According to the CPA, decisions shall be communicated to those whom they concern; final decisions have to be communicated to the aggrieved party as well. In addition, the decisions pertaining to the transfer of the case, designation of a court and the suspension of the proceedings shall also be communicated to the aggrieved party.
Collaboration with other Organisations
Hungary has engaged in RAN Voices of Victims of Terrorism (VVT), which is an EU wide network financed by the European Commission. RAN VVT highlights the concrete consequences of violent radicalization on human scale and uses this for prevention and deradicalization. The objective of RAN VVT is to make the voices of the victims heard, their positive values understood and their role empowered. This creates a strong instrument to raise people awareness of the dangers of terrorism and violent radicalization.
Assistance to victims of terrorism and their families is a key part of EU counter-terrorism efforts. As a member of the EU, Hungary has been strongly pursuing these efforts. The European Commission has set up the European Network of Associations of Victims of Terrorism (VVT). The main aim of this network is to stimulate trans-national cooperation between associations of victims of terrorism and enhance representation of the victims’ interests at the EU-level. On the external level, the EU works on strengthening cooperation with partner countries and international organizations with a view to promoting international solidarity with victims of a terrorist attack. The European Commission is also closely cooperating with the Global Survivors Network (GSN), an international organization for victims of terror to speak out against terrorism and radicalization.
Hungary is participating in the Scientific Working Group on Disaster Victim Identification. The purpose of this Working Group is to advance the scientific basis for disaster (terrorism) victim identification by assembling professionals from the Interpol Disaster Victim Identification community, including international participants, in a collaborative effort to exchange ideas regarding scientific analysis methods, protocols, training, and research related to Disaster Victim Identification. In the near future there will be a DVI team operating in Hungary under the command of the Ministry of Interior.