This report is the Hungarian report produced in the framework of the AWAY project, funded by the European Union. Each of the particpiating Member States, i.e Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary and Romania produced a report on the experiences with diversion in the juvenile justice system, using the same methodology and structure.
The research had its challenges, as "diversion" means different things in different countries: in some this is diversion from court proceedings, in others diversion is a set of alternative measures that can be initiated between court hearings and court decisions. It has also looked at the practical implementation of three directives of the European Union, related to juvenile justice.
While a lot of changes have been made in the juvenile justice system in all of the countries, including the introduction of alternative measures, divesion, mediation and restorative justice techniques, the systems remain punitive. This is true for the Hungarian system as well: diversion considering the individual needs, interests and human rights or restorative methods are significantly less used than traditional means, such as community work, suspended sentence or custodial measures. The legal framework is in line with the EU directives, but there is a huge distance between the written law and practice: professionals are faced with a very formalised, bureaucratic, highly hierarchical and under-financed system when it comes to juvenile justice. The system is fraught by lack of training, appropriate institutions, financing and lack of trained professionals. Often there is a lack of sensitivity towards the use of restorative methods or diversion. The public also tends to condemn "soft approaches", and often expresses a need for strict sentencing.