New asylum rules deny protection to refugees and lead to unprecedented human rights violations in Hungary
On 3 September 2015 at a press conference held in Brussels, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said “We have one message for refugees: Don’t come!”
The Prime Minister’s statement has now been turned into a set of unprecedented measures and legal changes designed to keep refugees out of Hungary. On 15 September, the 175-km long fence on the Serbian-Hungarian border was completed. Also on 15 September, amendments to Hungarian legislation entered into force that fundamentally reshape the Hungarian asylum system preventing refugees from having access to international protection in the country. The legal changes create a system in which most refugees – regardless of the circumstances they are fleeing from – will be denied access to the territory of the EU on the border, as nearly all asylum claims, regardless of the protection need, will be automatically rejected as inadmissible in an extremely accelerated procedure.
The new rules and policy, as a minimum, are in breach of:
- Hungary’s non-refoulement obligations under EU law, the ECHR and the 1951 Refugee Convention;
- Hungary’s obligation to provide those potentially in need of international protection with effective access to its territory and the asylum procedure under EU law and the 1951 Refugee Convention;
- Hungary’s obligation to properly apply the safe third country concept (including the mandatory consideration of the UNHCR’s position in this respect) as defined in EU law;
- Hungary’s obligation to conduct a fair, individualised and in-merit examination of asylum claims under EU law;
- Hungary’s obligation to provide asylum-seekers with an effective access to quality legal information and assistance under EU law;
- Hungary’s obligation to ensure an effective remedy against first-instance asylum decisions under EU law;
- Hungary’s obligation to observe the right to good administration (including the right to be heard) under EU law;
- Hungary’s obligation not to detain anyone arbitrarily.
Deeply concerned with this situation, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee has prepared a detailed Information Note that presents the main legal amendments and policy changes, as well as the concerns related thereto.
The Information Note can be downloaded here.