On 22 June, the Court of Justice of the European Union found that not allowing people to seek asylum on the territory of Hungary violates EU law. Currently it is
practically impossible to apply for international protection, as an asylum procedure may only be launched at the Hungarian embassy in Belgrade or Kyiv (!). Under the judgment made in Luxembourg, the “embassy procedure” must be abolished, and fair treatment must be ensured for asylum seekers.
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Currently, Hungary does not follow a fair asylum policy. Even though the government of Hungary provided temporary protection for those fleeing from the war in Ukraine right from the start, others are not granted a fair procedure and protection. The government is doing its best to prevent asylum seekers from applying for protection in Hungary.
The government introduced the “embassy procedure” on 26 May 2020. According to this rule, in order to lodge an application, asylum seekers must first submit a so-called “declaration of intent relating to the submission of an application for international protection” at the Hungarian embassy either in Belgrade or in Kyiv, which will be assessed by the National Directorate General for Aliens Policing. If a positive decision is made, the asylum seeker is granted entry to Hungary to lodge a formal application for international protection. If the request for entry to the country is rejected, the applicant is notified by an email that is difficult to understand – without any indication of either the reasons or the legal basis for the rejection, and without letting the applicant know that they have the right to appeal.
According to a recent report prepared by the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, by the end of 2022, i.e. in the course of two and a half years, a total of 783 requests had been filed for an appointment to submit a declaration of intent, but the opportunity was granted by the embassy in only 97 cases. In the past three years, only 4 families have been allowed to enter Hungary this way and lodge an application for international protection.
The European Commission has initiated an infringement procedure against this absurd and inhumane “embassy system”. On 22 June, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that this system was contrary to EU law and must be terminated.
The Hungarian Helsinki Committee provides legal representation in numerous cases to those who have been unlawfully prevented from applying for asylum, including several children.
“Seeking asylum is a fundamental right. It is the Hungarian state’s obligation under EU law, and even under the Fundamental Law of Hungary to guarantee due process rights before making a decision in someone’s case. After today’s judgment, it is obvious that the “embassy system” must be abolished and the possibility to apply for international protection within the territory of Hungary must be restored” – said Zsolt Szekeres, senior legal officer at the Hungarian Helsinki Committee.