Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban was re-elected in April 2018 by campaigning against migrants. Credit: REUTERS / Axel Schmidt / File Photo
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban was re-elected in April 2018 by campaigning against migrants. Credit: REUTERS / Axel Schmidt / File Photo

In early July, amendments to Hungary’s asylum laws went into effect that allow migrants whose requests for asylum have been denied to be expelled from the country during the appeals process. People appealing their asylum decisions have been placed in detention and denied food.

Hungary has adopted new measures concerning asylum seekers. Among them is an amendment to the existing law that went into effect on July 1 and permits authorities to deport unsuccessful asylum seekers, even if they have filed an appeal.

The new measures facilitate deportations by stipulating that asylum applications from people who arrived to Hungary from a country in which they are safe from prosecution or harm should be rejected. Almost all asylum seekers in Hungary enter form Serbia, which is classified by Hungary as safe, thus rendering nearly all claims inadmissible.

Hungarian law also mandates that migrants whose asylum applications have been denied to be held in camps known as “transit zones”. On August 20, the Hungarian Immigration and Asylum Office stated that they are not legally required to provide food to people placed in these detention centers.

In an article on its website, Human Rights Watch countered that "Hungarian authorities do have binding obligations under multiple human rights treaties and norms that prohibit inhuman and degrading treatment of those in their custody and require those in custody to be treated with humanity and dignity. That includes providing them with food, water, hygiene, and medical needs."

A pastor prevented from distributing food

Following a complaint by the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, a human rights organization, the European Court of Human Rights ordered Hungary to provide food to appealing asylum seekers on a case-by-case basis. The government complied, feeding two Afghan families and three other people, including two Syrian brothers.

But NGOs worry that the deprivation may continue. A video on the website of World Economy Weekly, a Hungarian business magazine, shows a pastor named Gabor Ivanyi being prevented from distributing food to migrants in the Röszke camp in the south of the country.

The enforced hunger is a tactic to push migrants into neighboring Serbia, observers contend. To deport them, “Hungary needs a green light from Belgrade, which generally refuses, so for Budapest, the only way to get rid of refugees is to encourage them to leave on their own", Florence La Bruyère, a French correspondent for radio station RFI in Budapest, said in a report.

András Léderer, head of information and advocacy for the Hungarian Helsinki Committee concurred. The new measures are intended to "force people to give up their asylum application," he told National Public Radio.


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