The border between Hungary and Serbia | Photo: Reuters
The border between Hungary and Serbia | Photo: Reuters

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Hungary violated the law in its treatment of a family of five asylum seekers, including three young children. The Iranian-Afghan family was held in a border transit zone for several months in 2017.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday that Hungary was responsible for multiple violations of the rights of a family of migrants during their stay in the Röszke transit zone on the border with Serbia in 2017.

The family claimed that during their stay in the transit zone from April to August 2017, the children did not get fed adequately and there was no air conditioning. In addition, the father was denied food because he had sought asylum in Hungary repeatedly.

The court in Strasbourg found that the lack of food provided to the father and the conditions of stay of the pregnant mother and three children had led to a violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits inhuman and degrading treatment. A majority of judges also found that the migrants' stay in the transit zone amounted to de facto deprivation of liberty, which is prohibited under Article 5 s 1, and that the family's right to have the lawfulness of their detention decided speedily by a court (Article 5 s 4) was also violated.

Also read: How Hungary is violating EU law on refugees

Mother and children traumatized

The court heard that the family arrived in Hungary in 2017 and applied for asylum there. The mother, S.H. from Afghanistan, had allegedly been captured, burned and raped by the Taliban who also killed her first husband.

While staying in the transit zone, the family was moved to an isolated section because the mother and children had hepatitis B. Their living container contained one bunk bed, two single beds and a chest of drawers. The court heard that the children (the youngest being 7 months old) were given sand to play with. S.H. was pregnant but had no maternity clothes, so she sewed a dress for herself using bed linen.

The family said that on visits to hospital they were escorted by armed police officers. At her second gynaecological examination, S.H., who had a high-risk pregnancy, said that male armed officers had been present (standing by her side) during the examination.

S.H. also suffered from mental illness, having been diagnosed with major depressive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. A psychologist had also observed that the two elder children showed signs of PTSD related to their experience in the transit zone.

The Hungarian government has been ordered to pay the children €4,500 each, and the adults €6,500 each in compensation. The family has been granted protection in Germany.

The European Court of Human Rights is part of the Council of Europe. Together the institutions are committed to upholding human rights in their 47 member states.

with dpa, epd

The European Court of Human Rights judgment (R.R. and Others v. Hungary) is available in French and English.


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