Hungary - Agnes Galajda
Judge, Capital Regional Court Hungary
Your Excellency, Madam President, Dear Colleagues,
It is a great honor and privilege for me and the members of Hungarian Association of Women Judges to take part in this important summit.
First of all, I would like to stress that His Holiness’s strong support for the victims is respectable. As we know, He has raised his voice against trafficking in human beings, and violence against children and women and his voice gives hope for the victims, touches the hearts and may trigger changes in governments too. His clear standpoint is very important because the victims are voiceless and vulnerable.
Thank you for this possibility to share with you my experiences. I will tell you about the work of the Hungarian Association of Women Judges. I hope the work that we do only in a given, limited field – as the well-known movement of the butterfly’s wing – can influence the life of the victims and survivors in a positive way.
I am a criminal judge and the questions of organized crime appear in my work in a different form, like a specific fact of the Criminal Code or circumstances that I have to evaluate in sentences, but I think we can agree that organized crime is more than that, it is a significant challenge for governments worldwide and for humanity, because it is present in all the segments of our lives, in social, political and economic transactions as well. Its effects influence not only the present but also the future, so our task is urgent.
Organized crime has known no borders for a long time in the world and I am afraid that the revolution of information technology and infrastructure will help to increase the offenders’ power. Organized crime appears in the most varied issues, e.g. drugs-and human beings, money laundering, tax crime, corruption, and unfortunately we have to face a new form of it, e.g. cybercrime, computer crime etc.
It is a well-known fact that offenders use violence, intimidation and terrorism to grasp power. The victims of international human trafficking are mainly children, women, the elderly, the poor and people with disabilities.
We have to see that on the one hand there is the big wealth accumulated from crime, sophisticated crime networks, and violence, and on the other there are the victims, children – who are the future generation – growing misery and poverty. Sexual abuse, pornography, sexual and labour exploitation, prostitution, and drugs are profitable means of income, therefore offenders are not willing to lose their share. This combat is continuous today.
In this situation there is no choice for us, we have a task in our own professions. If we want to stop the increase in organized crime we need human and financial resources, effective investigation, and the prosecution and punishment of offenders; the given states have to improve cooperation and coordination with each other and parliaments have to pass strict laws.
It is a fact, though, that legislators can write and vote the laws in some minutes but they cannot be enforced in reality.
We have to face that human factors, prejudices, social and historical traditions and discrimination may deeply influence the judgement of given issues, but violence, sexual abuse, and corruption exist in the world independent of religion, colour, age, race.
If we can change the professional attitude in a given field, we have to know this path will be very long and full of obstacles. The social environment often rejects the assistance of victims, they relativize the problem, so they stand out for the offender.
While we have more and more laws against violence and discrimination, in reality social tolerance is decreasing, violence is on the increase and does not stop at national borders. I think the cause of this is lack of knowledge.
From my point of view, all professionals and the Church could cooperate with each other and make a change. I think it is important to share our experiences with each other and that we can find a common task, since the social sphere and the Church can do a lot to change prejudices.
In my opinion the justice system, especially judges, who have to decide in given cases, have a great responsibility because the sentences of the courts must have a clear and unambiguous message on the interpretation of a given question, and they always send messages to the offenders. Judges have to guarantee equal access to justice and have to guarantee fundamental human rights for every individual coming to the court.
The sentences are determinant because the process finishes in the court, so the efficiency of the judges is very important. The judges need courage and knowledge to recognize a wider approach and apply international standards and research results. No doubt this is the reason why international conventions all emphasize the importance of judge trainings in the combat against organized crime.
The question arises, can an Association in Central Europe in a member country of the European Union make something for a better world. It is a fact: Hungary has the basic laws and regulations generally in line with international requirements and it has ratified the international treaties that prohibit discrimination.
At the same time, this also means that we must recognize phenomena and apply expertise in many situations that contradict our former knowledge or social traditions. It is a fact that it is not easy change either personally or at the level of society. This situation often causes personal and professional conflicts. When we established the goals of our Association that was founded by women judges and prosecutors, we wanted to share new and helpful knowledge that they could use in their work and we wanted a possibility, some kind of roundtable to cooperate with other professionals and NGOs.
We organized trainings and conferences about domestic violence, violence against children, women, and ethnic minorities, trafficking and prostitution and we dealt with the new form of the organized crime, effects of cybercrime on children. Our goal was to raise awareness and knowledge of judges because it is difficult to see the real connections behind the surface, to understand the essence in the text of legislation.
A good example of the work we do at our Association is the latest occasion when we organized a conference in March in Budapest and the topic was the situation of women and children in migration. The contributors elaborated on various topics like health problems, the causes of migration, recovery from traumatic experiences, human rights of women and the legal framework of immigration issues in EU and Hungary.
We were very glad that besides the Hungarian judges and prosecutors, many women judges from the Middle East and North Africa and from the Europe Union took part in the conference. I hope that judges were able to acquired such knowledge that they can apply in their work.
Finally, I would like to stress two elements: organized crime is growing faster than the combat against it. I often feel that we can only lag behind the perpetrators, the crime network and the sophisticated new methods.
There is another challenge: I am afraid, if the discrimination and hate against ethnic minorities, races and different social groups grows, it will support organized crime and will not solve the problems of human beings that become victims.
I hope more and more people will recognize the fact that only dialogue, cooperation, empathic approach, and a lot of work can help victims.
Thank you for your attention.