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This section refers to Belgian citizens who have been arrested in Hungary or are currently in a Hungarian prison.
The purpose of this section is to inform you about your rights, the procedures and the actions that the Belgian Embassy in Budapest can take to facilitate your case.
Your rights as a citizen of the European Union :
- You have the right to have access to a lawyer provided by the Hungarian state.
- You have the right to demand that administrative documents of your prison be presented to you in your native language.
- You have the right to equal treatment with Hungarian prisoners and no discrimination based on your nationality is allowed.
- You have the right to keep access to medicines that you can prove you need.
The procedures to which you are entitled:
- If you want our embassy to remain informed about your situation, to provide you with administrative assistance and to share information about you with your relatives and family, you should have indicated this at the time of your admission to prison, by ticking the appropriate box on the admission form (often called "Befogadási nyomtatvány"). If you did not do so at that time, you can request it at any time on a blank sheet of paper and send it to the prison management via your social worker.
- If you wish to contact relatives, receive their mail and allow them to visit you in your detention facility, your relatives must fill in and sign the document entitled "Kapcsolattartói nyilatkozat" / "Declaration registered contact person" and return it to the prison authorities. To do this, you must first ask the prison to provide you with this blank form, which you must then send by post to your relatives, who will in turn send the completed form to the prison.
- If you wish to request a transfer to a Belgian prison, please write a blank application form and send it to the prison authorities.
What our embassy can do to help you :
- Provide you and your relatives with a list of Hungarian lawyers competent in criminal matters. Please consult the full list of law offices. If the lawyer assigned to you by the Hungarian state is not suitable, we suggest that you contact a lawyer from our list to take over your case.
- Inform your relatives about your situation and your condition.
- Facilitate contact with the prison authorities in case of procedural problems, language misunderstandings or medical complications.
Our embassy is not competent to determine a defence strategy for the detainee, nor is it competent to provide legal advice.
For any other question, please consult our FAQ on the matter.
You can also consult the FPS Foreign Affairs brochure on assistance to Belgians detained abroad.
After the arrest, there are 72 hours of police custody during which the investigating judge decides on the next step: release OR remand in custody for 30 days which can be extended. The investigation phase begins and the pre-trial detention is extended for 3 months consecutively. If the investigation is closed, the documents are handed over to the prosecutor who drafts the charge for the court. The court has 3 months to study the documents, both on the prosecution and the defence side, and to set the date for the hearing.
2. How long does a trial take?
The trial can be extended by 3 months and it can be extended several times for different reasons (too many detainees waiting for a decision in the same time, COVID restrictions, etc..). Until the final judgement is issued, the pre-trial detention will continue to be in place, which can always be extended by three months.
3. What is the average length of a human trafficking sentence?
Facilitating the illegal passage of a person to Hungary: 1-5 years.
Trafficking in human beings if one of the following conditions is met
- in return for money
- involves more than one person
- destruction of property related to border security
Penalty: 2-8 years.
Trafficking in human beings involving one of the following aggravating conditions
- harassment of the trafficked person
- with a weapon
- in the context of organised crime
Sentence: 5-10 years
4. How to ensure that a prisoner has access to his medication?
Some medicines considered vital are provided free of charge to prisoners, but other medicines considered non-vital requested by Belgian prisoners are only reimbursed if they have a Hungarian social security number (which is not the case for our prisoners). For these medicines, the detainees have to pay. Furthermore, for these medicines, the prescriptions translated into HU from the detainees' Belgian doctors and psychiatrists should also be provided.
5. Procedure to become a contact person of a prisoner?
Normally, it is the prisoner who takes the initiative to register a contact person with his or her prison assistant, by mailing a specific form to the attention of the person concerned.
However, in order to speed up this procedure, the person concerned can download this form (available in several languages, e.g. EN, FR, DE, etc.). - However, in order to speed up the procedure, the person concerned can download the form (available in several languages, e.g. EN, FR, DE, etc., see FR version in Annex 4) from the official website of the prisons: https://bv.gov.hu/hu/kapcsolattartas (bottom of the website) and return it in original, duly completed and signed, to the prison, if the place of detention is already known. Attached is the form in FR.
The detainee can only call, write or receive mail, parcels, money or visits from persons who are registered as his contacts.
Each person wishing to contact the prisoner must fill in a separate form.
Once the prison receives the contact form, it sends it to the prosecutor for approval. After a thorough review, the prosecutor decides on these requests and informs the detention facility. This is a long process that can take several weeks and until it is completed, no contact is possible between the prisoner and the future contact person.
Then the prisoner must approve (if the initiative does not come from him/her).
6. Procedure to call a prisoner once someone is his contact person?
Only the prisoner can initiate a telephone or Skype contact with his/her social worker/supervisor.
To arrange a phone call between the prisoner and the contact person, the prisoner asks his social worker to arrange a Skype call / phone call with the contact person. The prison will arrange a call via the contact person's Skype name or phone number from the contact form. A prisoner has +/- 90 minutes of call time per week.
7. Can I visit the prisoner?
Visits should be arranged directly with the prison. The prisoner's lawyer can provide support in organising the visit.
8. Procedure to send a letter to a prisoner?
Only registered contact persons can contact the prisoner and send letters. If the contact form/declaration is completed, signed and returned to the relevant prison, and subsequently approved by the Prosecutor and finally registered by the prison, then the prisoner can receive letters from his/her registered contacts or send letters to them.
£9. Procedure to send a package to a prisoner?
Only registered contact persons can contact the prisoner and send parcels by post. If the contact form/declaration is completed, signed and returned to the relevant prison, and subsequently approved by the Prosecutor and finally registered by the prison, then the prisoner can receive parcels sent by his/her registered contacts.
Food, toiletries, tobacco products, medicines and medicinal products may not be included in the package received from the registered contacts!
The parcel containing food and toiletries can only be assembled from the supply of goods in the outlet stores operating in the institutions, which ensures the delivery of parcels in a controlled manner and makes the package delivery system much faster.
Therefore, the authorized contacts can only order a package via the Internet (www.bvcsomag.hu) or during their visit. Upon receipt of the order, the institution will compile the consignment within two working days and deliver the consignment to the detainee within the third working day. The weight limit of the package cannot exceeding 5 kg.
Package containing clothing items can be sent once every 3 months, up to a weight limit of 5 kg.
More information, click right for translation into ENG/NL/FR
10. Procedure to send a money to a prisoner?
Only registered contact persons can contact the prisoner and send money. If the contact form/declaration is completed, signed and returned to the relevant prison, and subsequently approved by the Prosecutor and finally registered by the prison, then the prisoner can receive money sent by his/her registered contacts.
For information, the prison website (https://bv.gov.hu/hu/penzugyek) includes the following guidelines for transferring money:
When initiating the transfer, please indicate the name and deposit account number of the prison.
The name, date of birth and/or registration number of the prisoner as well as the purpose for which the money is to be used (purchase of basic necessities, telephone calls, payment of debts to the prison) must always be indicated in the communication part of the transfer."
- Contact details for prisons in Hungary https://bv.gov.hu/hu/intezetek
- account number of the Hungarian penitentiary centres: https://bv.gov.hu/hu/penzugyek
- to obtain the IBAN n° of the penitentiary centres: https://www.ibancalculator.com/
11. When and how can a prisoner ask for a prison transfer to Belgium?
The transfer of the prisoner to Belgium can only be initiated after a final/enforceable judgement has been pronounced. This procedure must be initiated by the prisoner with the prison authorities, through his supervisory officer. The file is then transmitted to the Hungarian Ministry of Justice, which then consults with the Belgian Ministry of Justice.
12. How to ask for a different lawyer from the current one?
The detainee is free to choose a (paying) lawyer other than the (free) lawyer appointed by the Hungarian state. However, it is the responsibility of the detainee to find out about the modalities, the work and the costs of the services of the chosen lawyer. The Belgian Embassy in Budapest provides a list of multilingual lawyers on its website. Once the contract with the lawyer is concluded, the new and the old lawyer regulate the transfer of information and documents relevant to the detainee's trial.
The court-appointed lawyer can also resign and request the appointment of a new lawyer (e.g. due to communication difficulties, language problems). The court then has 8 days to appoint another lawyer pro deo.
13. What can or can’t the embassy do to help me?
- provide basic information to the detainee (model letter + Ministry brochure + list of lawyers)
- provide a list of lawyers
- ensure with the relevant local authorities that the detainee can be defended by a pro deo or ex officio lawyer
- help the family to establish the contact procedure with the detainee
- Put the family member in contact with the lawyer if they cannot reach them.
- Check non-discriminatory conditions of detention
- Contact the Prison Service Headquarter if there is an urgent matter (such as no access to vital medication)
In the case of dual citizenship, this assistance may be provided to the citizen only with the agreement of the Hungarian authorities.