Hungary: Government’s New Asylum Bill on Collective Push-backs and Automatic Detention

Aus der Stellungnahme des ungarischen Helsinki Komitees:

The most concerning changes include:

  • The grounds on which the Government may order a ‘state of crisis due to mass migration’ are extended to include vaguely defined requirements [Bill, Article 6].
  • The Government plans to extend the existing state of crisis by a further 6 months, it has announced, until 7 September 2017.
  • If any foreigner who has no right to stay in Hungary is apprehended anywhere in the country, s/he shall be “escorted” back by the police to the external side of the border fence along the southern border. Migrants affected by this push-back measure will not be given access to seek asylum or to challenge their removal from the country, an action that makes the otherwise prohibited collective expulsion the norm, and breaches the EU Returns Directive. No registration or individual documentation of persons “escorted” back across the fence is carried out, neither are their protection needs assessed [Bill, Article 7].
  • Asylum applications can only be submitted in person within the transit zones [Bill, Article 7]. This proposal is especially problematic and worrying as since 23 January 2017 the number of admitted asylum seekers to each of the now operational two transit zones along the Serbian border has been reduced to 5-5 persons per working day.
  • All those who are accomodated at open reception facilities or detained in asylum or immigration detention facilities at the time the bill enters into force will be transferred to the transit zones [Bill, Articles 3, 4 and 9].
  • All asylum-seekers, including all vulnerable persons and unaccompanied asylum-seeking children over 14 years of age, will be detained in the transit zones [Bill, Articles 4, 7 and 9]. The detention of unaccompanied minor children between the age of 14-18 years is clearly against the best interest of the child and breaches human rights and EU law.
  • The placement of asylum-seekers in the transit zones is “effectively detention”, as even the Government admits it in the reasoning of the Bill [General reasoning, para. 4]. However, no detention order would be issued and consequently no legal remedy would be available against the detention. The current maximum 28 days of stay in the transit zone would be eliminated, rendering the de facto detention of asylum seekers indefinite [Bill, Article 12].
  • The deadline to seek judicial review of inadmissibility decisions and rejections of asylum applications would be drastically shortened to 3 days, hindering the applicant’s ability to challenge these decisions in court [Bill, Article 7].
  • Judicial clerks, who are not appointed fully qualified judges, would also be involved in making court decisions in the asylum procedure [Bill, Article 6].
  • Personal interviews in the judicial review of asylum decisions could be carried out remotely via telecommunication devices [Bill, Article 6].
  • Asylum seekers in the transit zones would be obliged to cover the costs of their detention unless they are granted protection status [Bill, Article 3].

Ungarische Regierung: Strategic Cabinet decides on amendments to detain immigrants

“The presence of immigrants in Hungary represents a security risk, and accordingly the Government has decided that their free movement must be restricted”, the Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office and the region’s Member of Parliament said at a public forum before a crowd of some two hundred. “In future, people who submit requests must wait at the border for a decision to be made concerning their request. This is currently not the case; migrants are allocated to open camps for the duration of the judicial review or after a period of four weeks has elapsed”, the Minister explained. “People who are currently present within the territory of Hungary – their numbers are estimated at six-eight hundred– will be transported back to the border in several stages”, he said.

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Ungarische Regierung: Border protection base of Hungarian Defence Forces completed in Kelebia

Speaking at a press conference held in Kelebia, Bács-Kiskun County, Chief of Defence Gen. Dr. Tibor Benkő announced that the Kelebia border protection base of the Hungarian Defence Forces has been completed, and the installations at Bácsalmás, Madaras and Hercegszántó are expected to be finished by the spring. These facilities will provide modern field accommodation for altogether 600 men.

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The Guardian: Hungary submits plans to EU to detain all asylum seekers

Government spokesman says applicants would be held in ‘shelters’, and denies they would be ‘detention centres’. Hungary will submit proposals to the EU to protect Europe’s borders by automatically detaining any asylum seeker for the whole period of their asylum application, according to the government’s chief spokesman, Zoltán Kovács. Kovács claimed Donald Trump’s election in the US was contributing to “a change of mood in Europe” that vindicated the Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán’s tough position on migration, and said the recent EU summit in Malta marked a turning point in the EU’s attitude to migration in the Mediterranean. At a briefing in London, he said anyone seeking asylum through Hungary would be kept in “shelters” for the whole period of their application, though they would be free to go back to their own country at any point.

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Neuer AIDA-Bericht zu Ungarn veröffentlicht

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  • Entry through the transit zones: Since March 2016, an ever-growing number of migrants continue to gather in the “pre-transit zones”, which are areas partly on Hungarian territory that are sealed off from the actual transit zones of Röszke and Tompa, by fences in the direction of Serbia. The clear factors that determine who is allowed access to the transit zone are time of arrival and extent of vulnerability. The other determining factors are not so clear. In Röszke there are three separate lists for those waiting: one for families, one for unaccompanied minors and one for single men. In Tompa there is a single list containing the names of all three groups. Both lists are managed by a so-called community leader or list manager who is chosen by the people waiting at the given place and who communicates both with the Serbian and Hungarian authorities. Only 5 people per transit zone are allowed to enter per day. In January 2017, the HHC’s attorneys were denied access to the part of the transit zone where asylum seekers are placed. They can only provide legal assistance to those who already signed the mandate.
  • Irregular entry: Legal amendments that entered into force on 5 July 2016 allow the Hungarian police to automatically push back asylum seekers who are apprehended within 8 km of the Serbian-Hungarian or Croatian- Hungarian border to the external side of the border fence, without registering their data or allowing them to submit an asylum claim, in a summary procedure lacking the most basic procedural safeguards. Between 5 July and 31 December 2016, 19,057 migrants were denied access (prevented from entering or escorted back to the border) at the Hungarian-Serbian border. Serious inhuman treatment by the personnel in uniforms was reported by various sources.
  • Dublin: In May 2016, the IAO started to issue Dublin decisions on returns to Greece again. The IAO is of the opinion that the M.S.S. case is no longer applicable, since Greece has received substantial financial support and the reception conditions in Greece are not worse than in some other EU countries. In some cases the HHC lawyers successfully challenged such decisions at the domestic courts and in two cases the HHC obtained Rule 39 interim measures from the ECtHR. In December 2016 the practice changed again and no more Greece Dublin transfer decisions are issued.
  • Safe third country: In 2016 the Supreme Court’s opinion on Serbia as a safe third country was withdrawn, on the ground that legislation has since changed and its application based on current asylum and migration laws is no longer possible. The practice of the Hungarian courts regarding the inadmissibility decisions based on Serbia being a safe third country has varied. Inadmissible decisions based on safe third country ground continue to be issued in most of the cases where asylum seekers arrive through Serbia.
  • Relocation: Hungary has not applied the relocation scheme to date, and has brought an action before the CJEU to challenge the legality of Council Decision 2015/1601.

Reception conditions:

  • Accommodation: The centre in Nagyfa was closed in August 2016, while Bicske, the closest reception to Budapest, was closed in December 2016. Balassagyarmat, Kiskunhalas, Körmend and Vámosszabadi are still operating and located in smaller towns and further away from the capital. When Bicske camp was closed in mid-December 2016, several single men were ordered to go to the tent camp of Körmend, despite the fact that there were free capacities in other open centres in the country, which were not tent camps. Despite improper heating system in tents, which caused inhuman treatment of the residents in harsh winter, the requests to be 11relocated to other camps were not approved by the IAO in 2016; only in mid-January 2017 was the change of camp approved.
  • Financial allowance: Since 1 April, 2016 asylum seekers are not entitled to receive pocket money.

Detention of asylum seekers:

  • Detention centres: The newly built asylum detention centres in Kiskunhalas was opened on 11 April 2016. The new facility has gradually been filled by the end of July and it ran with almost full capacity during the summer. Asylum detention is implemented in 3 places: Kiskunhalas, Nyírbátor and Békéscsaba. In 2016 there were often periods when there were more asylum seekers detained than in open reception centres.
  • Legality of detention: In the O.M. v. Hungary judgment of 5 October 2016, the ECtHR found that detention was not assessed in a sufficiently individualised manner and that the authorities did not exercise particular care in order to avoid situations facing an asylum seeker on account
  • of his sexual orientation, which risked reproducing the plight that forced him to flee. Further on, detention for the purpose of establishing the asylum seeker’s identity does not fall under the scope of Article 5(1)(b) of ECHR, when asylum seeker makes reasonable efforts to clear his/her identity, because there is no legal obligation for asylum seekers in Hungary to provide documentary evidence of their identity.

Content of international protection:

  • Residence permit and review: The duration of Hungarian IDs issued to refugees was reduced from 10 years to 3 years, whereas in the case of persons with subsidiary protection, it was reduced from 5 years to 3 years as of 1 June 2016. According to the same reform, refugee and subsidiary protection statuses are to be reviewed every 3 years.
  • Integration support: As a result of legislative changes in April and June 2016, all forms of integration support were eliminated. Since the entry into effect of Decrees 113/2016 and 62/2016 and the June 2016 amendment to the Asylum Act, beneficiaries of international protection are no longer eligible to any state support such as housing support, additional assistance and others.

Agitation im Unterricht: Ungarns Regierung wirbt Kinder in Schulen als „Grenzjäger“ an

Am Montag begannen Anwerber der ungarischen Polizei mit Veranstaltungen in ungarischen Mittelschulen (Foto. police-hu), um sogenannte „Grenzjäger“ anzuwerben. Bei den in Uniform abgehaltenen Präsentationen vor 12- bis 17jährigen Kindern wird nicht nur die Bedingungen für eine Aufnahme genannt und die Ausbildung beschrieben, sondern auch von einem „zukunftsträchtigen, krisensicheren Job“ gesprochen und einer moralischen Verpflichtungen seiner Nation zu dienen […].

Erst vor wenigen Tagen wurden 532 neue „Grenzjäger“, die im Eilverfahren ausgebildet wurden, von Premier Orbán mit martialischen, sämtliche Flüchtligne pauschal verunglimpfenden Worten auf ihre Aufgaben vereidigt. Insgesamt sollen die Grenzbataillone der Polizei bald bis zu 6.000 Einsatzkräfte umfassen

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Orbán verteidigt Internierung von Flüchtlingen: Jahr der Revolte gegen “frustrierten, neidischen Westen”

In seinem ersten Radiointerview des Jahres, der Sendung „180 Minuten“ referierte Premier Orbán am Freitag wiederum darüber, dass „Wir die Souveränität des Landes gegen Versuche Brüssels verteidigen müssen, die nationalen Zuständigkeiten in der Flüchtlingsfrage zu übernehmen.“ Orbán räumte ein, dass der Beschluss, „alle Asylantragsteller einzusperren klar gegen die EU-Politik“ gerichtet ist, aber notwendig sei, um „der erhöhten Terrorgefahr in Europa zu begegnen“. Gesetze, „die Terrorismus erleichtern, sind abzuschaffen, Selbstverteidigung ist angesagt“.

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