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The New Arab

Hungary making 'mockery' out of right to asylum

Hungary's border has been a symbol of suffering for refugees in Europe [AFP]

Date of publication: 27 February, 2017

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Hungary's populist government is attempting to push through new anti-migrant legislation, which would see Syrians and other refugees rounded up across the country and held on the border.
Hungary is making a "mockery" out of the right to asylum, and the European Commission should strongly respond to Budapest's anti-migrant actions, Human Rights Watch said on Monday.

It follows a bill proposed by the populist Hungarian government which could see refugees and migrants from across the country rounded up and transferred to neighbouring Serbia.

Authorities would also have the power to automatically detain refugees in transit zones on the Hungarian-Serbian border, before being deported to the neighbouring country.

"The European Commission should not stand by while Hungary makes a mockery of the right to seek asylum," said Benjamin Ward, deputy director of the Europe and Central Asia division at Human Rights Watch.

"Using transit zones as detention centres and forcing asylum seekers who are already inside Hungary back to the Serbian side of the razor-wire fence is abusive, pointless, and cruel."

The law would see all adult asylum seekers in Hungary - along with families with children and unaccompanied minors aged between 14 and 18 - rounded up by police and detained in transit zones, with no rights to challenge their deportation.

Hungary has been a staging post for a migrant route from the Balkans to other countries in the European Union.

But an influx of asylum seekers into Europe over the past year has led to countries such as Austria and Germany to tighten controls on their borders with Hungary and other EU states.

Hungary is also planning on fencing off its border with Serbia to prevent more migrants reaching its territory.
Using transit zones as detention centres and forcing asylum seekers who are already inside Hungary back to the Serbian side of the razor-wire fence is abusive, pointless, and cruel.

Many of the refugees over the past year have come from refugee camps in Turkey, where an upscale in violence in Syria saw thousands flee regime and Russian bombs in Aleppo.

Many other migrants in Hungary include Iraqis, Afghans and Pakistanis, who have used people smuggler's to reach Europe.

Human Rights Watch said that the migrants caught in Hungary would be sent over the border to Serbia without permission.

This could lead to thousands more Syrians and other migrants trapped in no-mans-land on the border if a stand-off between Budapest and Belgrade plays out.

Hungary's security forces have also been accused of using systematic violence and abuse against vulnerable refugees in the country.

The EU opened infringement proceedings against Hungary for its questionable asylum legislation but the findings have not been made public.

The European Commission should take further measures against Hungary before Budapest further undermines its EU asylum obligations, Human Rights Watch said.


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