UNHCR calls on Hungary to withdraw new asylum rules and 'prison-like conditions' for refugees

UNHCR calls on Hungary to withdraw new asylum rules and 'prison-like conditions' for refugees

The UN is urging Hungary to comply with international human rights laws, after the Budapest shut migrant crossing points at its borders
2 min read
30 June, 2020
Hungary is accused of depriving migrants of their right to ask for asylum [Getty]
The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) on Monday  called on the Hungarian government to walk back from a recent decision to tighten the country's asylum system.

Some provisions of the decision adopted on 17 June prevent future asylum applications and could potentially violate international human rights law, the agency warned.

Hungary shut migrant "transit zones" across its borders last month, leaving some 300 refugees reportedly stuck in "prison-like conditions", according to Reuters.

Those arriving at the border of Hungary to seek asylum will now be turned away and redirected to a designated Hungarian embassy in neighbouring countries.

According to international and EU law Hungary is required to grant admission - at least on a temporary basis - to the refugees in order to examine asylum claims.

"Effective access to territory is an essential pre-condition to be able to exercise the right to seek asylum," the UNHCR said in a statement released Monday evening.

"This may expose asylum-seekers to the risk of refoulement and ill-treatment which would amount to a violation of the 1951 Refugee Convention and other international and regional human rights instruments to which Hungary is a State Party," the statement said.

Gillian Triggs, UNHCR's Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, additionally called on Hungary to repeal the decision. 

"We urge the Government of Hungary to initiate the withdrawal of the act and to review its asylum system to bring it into conformity with international refugee and human rights law as well as EU law," Triggs was quoted as saying.

Read also: World Refugee Day: UN says 'every action counts' as record numbers displaced globally

A Hungarian government spokesman told Reuters that the new rules would provide an opportunity to regulate asylum requests.

"Illegal migration goes against Hungarian and European Union regulations," the spokesman told the agency.

"Therefore, in line with the opinion of the Hungarian people, Hungary will continue to protect the EU's Schengen [agreement on visa-free travel] borders from illegal migration."

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