Zusammenfassung des Berichts:
Fences, teargas, and draconian legislation: over the last year the Hungarian authorities have baulked at little in their determination to keep refugees and migrants out of the country. The government’s programme of militarization, criminalization and isolation – that it touts as “Schengen 2.0” – has ushered in a set of measures which have resulted in violent push-backs at the border with Serbia, unlawful detentions inside the country and dire living conditions for those waiting at the border. While the Hungarian government has spent millions of Euros on a xenophobic advertising campaign, refugees are left to languish.
The Hungarian government’s anti-refugee campaign will reach a new nadir on 2 October 2016 when Hungarians will be asked to vote on the mandatory relocation of asylum-seekers in Hungary. But the real questions are bigger; is Hungary prepared to accept refugees at all? Is it prepared to work within the framework of EU rules to find shared solutions to an EU-wide challenge? The government’s intentional blurring of the lines between seeking asylum and other forms of migration goes hand in hand with its labelling refugees and migrants as “illegal” and as threats to national security. The toxic rhetoric of the Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, calling asylum-seekers “poison”, has trickled down to the level of local government and often permeates the context in which police and local asylum centres operate.
Hungary has erected a series of legal and physical barriers around the country to keep refugees and migrants out. It has constructed a border fence at its southern border with Serbia and Croatia, and criminalized irregular entry across it. Within a year, close to three thousand refugees and migrants were penalized. Thousands of people have also been denied entry or returned forcibly to Serbia since the law was changed in July 2016 to allow the immediate return of those caught at the border fence or up to 8 km inside Hungarian territory.
The Hungarian government has not been content to isolate itself behind its fences. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has, instead, invested considerable energy into convincing EU colleagues of the merits of “Schengen 2.0”. He has even found some support. This briefing documents some of the pernicious consequences of Hungary’s current policies and gives a taste of what awaits refugees seeking sanctuary in Europe if other countries seek to replicate them. This briefing documents the plight of refugees and migrants as they wait in dire conditions to enter the country; as they get pushed back to Serbia, sometimes violently and without access to any procedure; as they are routinely detained in centres where they are “treated like animals” and as they make their way through an asylum procedure designed to reject them.
The only way to enter Hungary regularly and apply for asylum is through its “transit zones”, a set of metal containers set up at the border following the completion of the border fence. Only 30 people are admitted to the “transit zones” each day; others languish in substandard conditions in makeshift camps at the border area, or in overcrowded centres across Serbia waiting for their turn to arrive to enter Hungary, based on an “entering plan” submitted by asylum-seekers themselves. Hungary fails to ensure that those who can’t be admitted to the asylum procedure immediately receive humane treatment, including access to sanitation, medical care and adequate accommodation conditions.
With such heavy restrictions on regular entry to the country, many choose to cross the border irregularly after months of waiting. They are stopped and returned immediately, without any consideration of their needs for protection or particular vulnerabilities. Refugees and migrants told Amnesty International about excessive use of force, including beatings, kicking and chasing back with dogs and unlawful returns (or “push backs”) to Serbia. Inside the “transit zone” containers, authorities unlawfully detain without ground most men traveling without family for up to four weeks. Most of them have their asylum applications declared inadmissible on the grounds that they came through Serbia, a “safe third country”, where they should have applied for asylum.
As Serbia does not formally take them back and does not provide access to a fair and individualized asylum process, those pushed back out of the containers have little other option than to attempt a different route to the EU. Those who do get into the country risk a multitude of further rights violations. The detention of asylum-seekers has become routine. In early August, over half of the twelve hundred asylum-seekers residing in Hungary were in asylum detention. Despite repeated requests, Amnesty International was not allowed to visit the asylum detention centres to document the conditions asylum-seekers were kept in. However, the organization has interviewed several former detainees in the Körmend tent camp and in Austria, who reported beatings and threats of violence by the police and security guards inside the detention centre. They also spoke of the frustration and trauma among the asylum-seekers locked up without having committed a crime. Amnesty International interviewed several asylum-seekers who harmed themselves in desperation.
Families and vulnerable persons are taken from “transit zones” to open reception centres inside the country where they face a different set of challenges. They languish in conditions which are often unsuitable for long-term accommodation, and where information on and assistance with asylum applications are lacking and support to access essential services is minimal. These centres barely provide education, activities for children and healthcare. The lack of translators and a lengthy, complex asylum process create often insurmountable obstacles to their asylum cases.
Hungary is, on multiple counts, in flagrant breach of international human rights and refugee law and EU directives on asylum procedures, reception conditions, and the Dublin regulation. The Hungarian authorities continue to intentionally undermine any agreement that could protect the rights of refugees and migrants to safely and legally arrive in the European Union, be treated with dignity, and have a fair and individual opportunity to make their cases heard. This briefing makes the case for the European Commission to take the infringement proceedings it has started against Hungary further and hold Hungary accountable and bring the country’s migration and asylum policies in line with EU and international law obligations.