With the development of a network of victim support centres, the government wishes to make these services readily available in every county within five years, the Justice Minister stated on Monday in Pécs.

At the inauguration of the Pécs victim support centre, Judit Varga said this year HUF 600 million is available for the maintenance and the enhancement of the capacity of the Budapest, Miskolc, Szombathely and most recently Pécs victim support centres. She added that the goal of the government was to set up such an institution in every county in the future.

The Minister highlighted that the development of victim support centres is a priority task of the government because the government believes it is its moral duty to help those in need, and help can be most effective if provided locally.

She said a further objective is to have a system in place in which the authorities themselves play an active role in providing support for victims. She also indicated that the government will continue to rely on the cooperation of civil-society and church partners also in the future because, she said, “by virtue of their nature, they are able to perform such duties with greater flexibility” than the state support system that functions within an official environment.

Referring to domestic violence, Ms. Varga said the state must respond and must offer a variety of support measures so that victims feel that they are not alone, and that they can count on the community and the country.

She highlighted that the state has operated a victim support system together with its civil-society and church partners with a wide range of services for many years; victims of violent crimes have access to – among others – legal, psychological and financial support, and have protected accommodation at their disposal.

The Minister drew attention to the fact that on the toll-free emergency phone number 80/225-225 available throughout the country and the website vansegitseg.hu launched simultaneously with the opening of the centre, victims can obtain information about where they can access help nearest to their homes, in addition to which every government office offers help and support as well.

Ms. Varga took the view that in the fight against domestic violence and the reinforcement of the system of victim support “a single deed is louder than a thousand words;” this is why she earlier initiated the tightening of the rules relating to conditional release, a review of the current sentencing practice in the context of crimes against life, and the amendment of the rules relating to the child protection alert system.

According to the Minister, it does not improve the quality of the system of victim support if those in need of help are used for political objectives and “games;” they will not be helped by “posts, comments and empty phrases”. With a view to improving the legal system and the application of the law, the Ministry called upon all partners aiming for the same goal to join their ranks as partners, including inviting some sixty organisations to the meeting of the family law civic task force in order to help common efforts with constructive proposals.

Ms. Varga said the modernisation of the victim support system has come to the fore not only in Hungary as the European Commission itself has adopted a new strategy for protecting the rights of victims of crimes.

Hungary will be a partner in its implementation, she said.

Baranya County Government Commissioner Zoltán Horváth said in the new centre located in a highly-frequented and easily accessible area, excellent, highly qualified specialists working to the highest professional standards await those in need of assistance.

In his welcome address, President of the Baranya County General Assembly László Őri (Fidesz-KDNP) highlighted that in the past ten years the quality of support provided for victims has improved considerably; the government is committed to offering effective assistance. He said the county local government – in cooperation with hundreds of civil-society organisations – is seeking to pay attention to the needs of citizens and to offer assistance, including the services of the new centre to those who may need it.

Pál Csonka, regional head of the Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta which supports the work of the Pécs centre said his organisation helps victims, among others, with social services and clothing and food donations.

The Pécs victim support centre provides free legal, psychological, interest enforcement and financial assistance to persons in trouble.

(Ministry of Justice/MTI)