European Court of Human Rights: Another Iraqi family had been unlawfully held in inhuman conditions in the transit zone

Another judgment has been delivered by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg due to unlawful detentions in the transit zone. The asylum seeking family from Iraq, four children and their parents were arbitrarily held by the Hungarian authorities for 136 days. The family was represented by the Hungarian Helsinki Committee.

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Váltás magyarra

After five years of inglorious operation, in May 2020 the transit zones of Röszke and Tompa were finally closed and the unlawful detention of refugees in the transit zone came to an end. Since then, more and more international court judgments have condemned the Hungarian state for systematically subjecting asylum seekers detained in the transit zones to inhuman and degrading treatment.

Today, yet another judgment of this kind has been delivered by the European Court of Human Rights. The victim of the inhumanity of the Hungarian state was once again a fleeing family with young children. 

A family escaping persecution

The family, who had fled Iraq, was detained for four and a half months in the Tompa transit zone. In 2017 this was the only location in Hungary where asylum applications could be submitted. The container prison was clearly not suitable for the permanent accommodation for children. The children aged 3, 7, 9 and 17 were not offered any meaningful educational services appropriate for their age.

Perhaps the most severely affected by the inhuman detention was the mother. Her depression and heart condition sometimes became so severe that she fainted and needed urgent medical attention. However, when she was transferred to an external medical service, she was accompanied by a police escort, as if she was a dangerous criminal.

In addition, the father, a torture survivor did not receive professional psychiatric or psychological assistance, despite his repeated requests.

They were released  from the transit zone at Tompa only on 11 August 2017.

Having suffered severe traumas in the transit zone detention and facing a complete lack of integration assistance by the Hungarian state, the family found a new home in Germany after their release. 

Today’s judgment by the ECHR

According to the new judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, Hungary had unlawfully detained the entire family without access to legal remedy and the conditions of detention for the children amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment, in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. The judgment, therefore, awarded the complainant family € 12,500 in just satisfaction, i.e. compensation.

“From the very beginning, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee has considered the inhuman detention in the transit zone unacceptable. We have done everything in our power to ensure the respect for human rights and freedom of our clients. This case also illustrates who were the victims of arbitrary detention in Hungary , that lasted months or even years: families, children, victims of torture, sick people in need of help. They posed no threat to us. The threat to us, Hungarian citizens, is if the state can arbitrarily imprison innocent people without the possibility of domestic judicial review.

“We hope that all our clients will be receiving similar judgments from the ECtHR in the near future, providing just satisfaction to these refugee families,” said Barbara Pohárnok, attorney of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee and the legal representative of the Iraqi family.

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Hungarian Helsinki Committee