Hungary's controversial transit zones along the Serbian border are policed by military units | COPYRIGHT: picture-alliance/Photoshot/A. Volgyi
Hungary's controversial transit zones along the Serbian border are policed by military units | COPYRIGHT: picture-alliance/Photoshot/A. Volgyi

On Tuesday, July 7, a Hungarian court sentenced four migrants to one year in jail each. The court judged they entered the country illegally by tearing down a fence at the border.

Two Palestinian and two Syrian men were sentenced to a year each in jail by a Hungarian court on Tuesday, July 7. They are accused of being part of a group of 50 people who tore down a border fence in order to enter the country illegally at the beginning of this year.

The incident took place on January 28, according to the news agency AFP. An appeals court followed the jail sentences by saying that the men should be deported and banned from re-entering Hungary for two years, once they have served their sentences.

Tearing down the fence

According to AFP, police footage depicts the group, "many wearing backpacks pulling down a wire fence and entering Hungarian territory, while police fire several shots in the air."

After the shots were fired, it is reported that most of the group "retreated into Serbia" but the four men on trial remained in Hungary and were subsequently arrested.

According to a video published by the Hungarian Helsinki Committee for World Refugee Day 2020, the numbers of those allowed to seek asylum in Hungary continue to diminish. "Since 2017, anyone found in Hungary without documents permitting them to be there will be pushed back to Serbia," states the video's narrator.Asylum in Hungary

In fact, the video states that "according to [Hungarian] police statistics, almost 40,000 people have been pushed back to Serbia since 2016." During the same period, continues the video, "Hungary registered 15,400 asylum seekers." Every year these numbers get less and less, in 2019, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee say that only 468 people were permitted to seek asylum in Hungary.

This is partly due to the fact that most don't want to stay in Hungary but mostly due to a series of laws which Prime Minister Viktor Orban has introduced to stop migrants entering Hungary and the Schengen zone.

His measures have attracted criticism from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) which ruled in May that Hungary was "unlawfully detaining people in the transit zone and depriving them of their right to apply for asylum." Following this judgement, Hungary moved 300 people to semi-open facilities who had previously been residing in the transit zones. Hungary also said they would "abolish the transit zones," even though it disagreed with the ruling.

•••• ➤Also read: Hungary's slow descent into xenophobia, racism and human rights abuses

 

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