On 7 October 2021 Deputy State Secretary for EU and International Relations Dr. Mátyás Hegyaljai, the National Anti-Trafficking Coordinator of Hungary received John Cotton Richmond, former head of the TIP Office, who also consulted with members of the NGO Roundtable.

Mr Richmond previously worked as a federal prosecutor and the chief of the International Justice Mission’s anti-slavery program in India, then from 2018 to 2021 he also served as head of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP Office) of the U.S. State Department. 

In his meeting with deputy secretary of state Mr. Hegyaljai, Mr. Richmond briefly shared the experiences of his career so far and praised the trafficking-related amendments adopted by the Hungarian Parliament last year. Mr. Hegyaljai emphasized that the fight against trafficking in human beings and social inclusion are priority areas for the Hungarian government, illustrated by the adoption of the new sectoral strategies in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

The parties then exchanged views on involving survivors of trafficking in prevention and decision-making, and on the need of severe judicial action against perpetrators. 

The American experts also met representatives of NGOs working in the field of victim assistance. Mr. Richmond was primarily interested in the emerging trends of human trafficking in light of the coronavirus pandemic, and then sought the views of participants on the various regulatory models of prostitution.

Representatives of the Ministry of Interior indicated that according to the experience of law enforcement agencies the organization of prostitution is increasingly being transferred to online platforms (e.g. the recruitment of victims, advertising of sexual services). Victim support organizations haven’t noticed significant decline either in the volume of sexual and labor exploitation during the lockdown. 

Regarding the regulation of prostitution, all members of the NGO Roundtable were in favor of the Nordic (equality) model. It was noted however that a coherent EU approach is needed in this field, since Member States' policies ranging from total prohibition to liberalization only result in the concentration of potential victims and users of sexual services in specific countries.