Diversion in the Hungarian juvenile justice system - HINTALOVON

Diversion in the Hungarian juvenile justice system

This report has been developed within the framework of the ’Alternative Ways to Address Youth (AWAY)’ project. AWAY is a regional project implemented in four EU member states (Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary and Romania) under the coordination of Terre des hommes Regional Office for Central and South East Europe based in Hungary. 

AWAY project aims to examine the situation and build regional empirical evidence base on diversion in the juvenile justice system. 

To identify the challenges and obstacles for the use of diversion and map existing alternative services for children, national research was conducted in the participating countries.
Through the implementation of its activities AWAY project aims to

  • develop and deliver  self-directed e-learning course as well as one-to-one and group mentoring with multidisciplinary professionals on child-friendly practice in diversion;
  • utilize the research findings and cumulated lessons of the training sessions to develop child-friendly materials and easy to use information for children and adults in the target countries;
  • inform both local and regional related policies and plans of action. 

Besides diversion, the project investigates three procedural directives of the European Parliament and of the Council (EU directives 2012/29 on the rights of victims of crime, 2012/13 on the right to information in criminal proceedings and EU 2016/800 directive on procedural safeguards for children suspected or accused in criminal proceedings). 

The aim of AWAY is to investigate the process of diversion in several countries but not many factors help the comparability of several notions, phenomena and practices.  International organizations’ evaluation found that the definition of ‘diversion’ and the range of diversion schemes vary between countries and territories. In most countries, national stakeholders perceive and share international frameworks and measures of ‘diversion’ as diversion from judicial proceedings; therefore a process that takes place before the first trial hearing. In some countries, however, ‘diversion’ is taken to include forms of alternative procedures instigated between the start of judicial proceedings and sentencing of those convicted. AWAY also targets the problem of realization of the procedural rights of suspected or accused children and the emergence of child friendly justice.

Children face various obstacles in seeking justice and demanding respect for their rights, some of the obstacles being their lack of legal capacity as well as their particular status as minors. Their vulnerability is further exacerbated in the course of investigations or criminal proceedings by social and administrative conditions such as living in state care or belonging to a marginalized minority group. The procedural guarantees that need to be triggered for children suspected or accused in criminal proceedings indeed raise additional challenges for national justice systems in out of court, alternative procedures when professionals divert the children’s case. Discretion of the professionals (to apply for diversion) and lack of transparency are only the top of the iceberg. 

This report covers Hungary as one of the four national reports developed in  the AWAY project. The report is the result of research combining desk research, analysis and semi-structured interviews with adult stakeholders and children. Developed according to a common research methodology employed in all the four project countries, the report presents the research findings and identifies noteworthy practices as well as recommendations. In line with the aims of the research, the report also discusses the factors that affect and hamper the effective use different ways of diversion as well as the rights enshrined in the  EU directives investigated.

The information and findings in this report and in the other national reports will serve as a basis for a regional comparative report to be completed in the AWAY project.