Prosecutor General Dr. Péter Polt has submitted to Parliament the annual report about the activities of the Prosecution Service of Hungary and has summarized the main findings of the report in a video message.
One of the key findings of the report documenting the activities in 2020 is that, despite the coronavirus pandemic, the Prosecution Service of Hungary was operating and working effectively owing to legal and technical innovations. The COVID-19 restrictive measures and the state of emergency, which became effective in March 2020, led to the introduction of new procedural rules, different form the ones set forth by the Hungarian Criminal Procedure Code. The role of the Prosecution Service has become highly appreciated, since in addition to supervising criminal investigations and prosecuting cases in court, it has facilitated the speedy completion of procedures in a way that would pose minimum epidemiological risks.
Statistical data show that the rate of various accelerated procedures increased significantly, close to 66% compared to the previous year. This can partly be attributed to a guideline issued by the Office of the Prosecutor General laying down that in all cases where legal conditions are met, prosecutorial motions should be filed for penal orders. The numbers verify the success of this solution, as prosecutors filed motions for penal orders for almost 72% of the total number of indictments. This led to less case backlog in courts, and the Prosecution Service kept pace with its own schedule.
The number of registered crimes continued to decline in 2020 as well, but there are also areas which require more attention in the future. The number of completed intentional homicide and attempted homicide cases increased. The number of crimes related to human smuggling and the number of cases that can be linked to technological development such as cash-substitute payment instruments, money-laundering or breaches of information systems or data continued to increase.
The need to handle crimes committed by use of information systems in a uniform way also called for organizational changes and developments in the Prosecution Service. As a result, the Division of Cybercrime Cases was set up as part of the Department for Priority, Corruption and Organized Crime Cases at the Office of the Prosecutor General in 2020.
In line with legislative intentions, the formalization, so called “whitening” of the economy has remained to be one of the key priorities for the Prosecution Service, so special attention is paid to the detection of budget frauds. Although the number of these types of crime is declining, the trend continues that such cases are diverse, their facts and legal issues are complex, and new forms of crime are emerging year by year.
The growth in the number of registered criminal procedures initiated for corruption crimes stopped; in fact, it slightly dropped in 2020.
In 2020, the Prosecution Service continued to pay special attention to the protection of the environment in its activities concerning the protection of public interest; the number of measures taken in environment protection, nature protection and animal protection cases increased by more than 43% in comparison with the previous year. As far as child and juvenile protection is concerned, compared with 2019, the number of official proceedings initiated at guardianship offices to grant a child a ‘protected status’ increased significantly by 22%, whereas the number of awareness-rising signals in restraint cases showed a growth of almost 18%.
Strengthening international cooperation was also an integral part of the activities of the Prosecution Service in 2020. In January 2020, prior to the introduction of the pandemic measures, the Prosecutor General, Mr. Péter Polt met the Director General of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), Mr. Ville Itälä in Budapest. The traditionally excellent working relationship of the two organisations is backed up by the latest data issued by the EU organisation. According to the 2020 report, between 2016 and 2020, the Prosecution Service of Hungary filed indictments in 67% of the cases concerned by judicial recommendations from OLAF, which was a significantly higher percentage than the average in the EU (37%). A cooperation agreement to build on this success is about to be signed.
In 2020, a technical consultation with the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO) started. As a result, this spring the Prosecution Service of Hungary was the first – and so far the only – non-accession country to conclude a working arrangement with EPPO based on mutual benefits, thus also expressing its intention to cooperate.
In the summary of the annual report submitted to the Parliament and in his video message, the Prosecutor General emphasized his confidence in the support of the MPs and that they are interested in ensuring that the Hungarian justice system, including the Prosecution Service, functions in accordance with the law and in the spirit of seeking justice, regardless of their party affiliation.
The 2020 report is available on our website at the following link: