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Push-backs are not only arbitrary but often also violent

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Váltás magyarra

In a shocking report, The Guardian revealed that Hungarian authorities pushed out even severely injured asylum seekers to Serbia. We have been drawing attention to this issue for a long time and continue to provide legal assistance to victims of the arbitrary rule of state authorities.

Z.A. is also one of our clients, who was pushed back from a Hungarian hospital to the Serbian wilderness as an unaccompanied minor, right after a severe accident. Hungarian authorities took the lonely, barefoot child to the border in April. They carried him because he could not walk on his own, yet he was forced to cross to Serbia. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has accepted his case.

In October, several of our push-back clients won in Strasbourg, including the man in whose case the ECtHR previously, for the first time, ruled that Hungary’s police practice at the southern border – the indiscriminate, summary returns without regard to the individual circumstances of those crossing the border irregularly – violates the prohibition of collective expulsion.

Our Pakistani client was not only thrown back to Serbia but also beaten by Hungarian police. The ECtHR stated that the Hungarian police officers had ill-treated the man, and the prosecutor’s office also failed to carry out the expected investigative steps.

It is noteworthy that this year, in another case, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the Hungarian authorities’ investigation into the drowning of a young Syrian at the border was inadequate and, therefore, ordered Hungary to pay compensation.

In October, we won in two other push-back cases, involving families as applicants. The Hungarian police forced both families from the Liszt Ferenc International Airport directly to Serbia, where they had never been before – even though they had applied for asylum at the airport. Moreover, one of the families came from a war zone; the single mother wanted to find safety with her disabled child in Hungary – instead, they were simply thrown out in the middle of nowhere at night. The ECtHR judgment confirmed that Hungary violated the prohibition of collective expulsion. It also found that Hungary violated the prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment from a procedural law perspective by expelling our clients, ignoring their asylum claim, and preventing their access to the asylum procedure in Hungary.

The Hungarian Helsinki Committee has been working for many years to finally replace the unlawful, often violent push-backs with a humane and lawful practice.

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Hungarian Helsinki Committee