Hungary’s interior ministry on Monday “categorically rejected” reports in domestic and foreign media alleging that Hungarian border police regularly commit violence against migrants. The ministry reacted to a fresh article by Swedish paper Aftonbladet, in which refugees who had made it to the Serbian-Hungarian border and representatives of medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) recount incidents of violence against migrants by Hungarian authorities.
The ministry said in a statement that if an illegal migrant “gives the slightest implication” during questioning that they had been assaulted, the police submit the minutes of the questioning sessions to the prosecutor’s office. It said that out of the eight such cases that had been referred to the prosecutor’s office, six had already turned out to be “baseless hearsay”. As part of collaborative operations organised by European border agency Frontex, there are currently 36 guest police officers conducting border patrols in Hungary, but so far none of them have reported any incidents of human rights abuses or violence against migrants, it added. Although Aftonbladet said it was unable to verify the validity of the personal accounts given in the article, the media reports it as fact that migrants are abused in Hungary, the ministry said.
Earlier in the day, Gábor Fodor, head of the opposition Liberal Party, called on the government to launch an investigation into the allegations made in the paper. Referring to the reports in Aftonbladet, Fodor said that many migrants in northern Serbia had been treated with injuries suggesting that Hungary’s border police had “applied physical coercion against people attempting entry”. He also noted that the problem had been reported earlier.
Parliament will vote on a set of amendment proposals to Hungary’s asylum regulations on Tuesday. If passed into law, the bill before parliament would prohibit asylum-seekers from leaving the transit zones set up on the border until their cases are ruled on. The bill also proposes that authorities should be allowed to take illegal migrants back to the transit zones from any given spot of the country, regardless of where they have been apprehended. Under Hungary’s current asylum laws, illegal entrants can only be escorted back if stopped within eight kilometres of the border.
The national police headquarters said on its website that during a Frontex meeting in February, member states were presented a letter dated January 24 by the organisation’s Director Fabrice Leggeri which showed that disproportionate use of force by police had not been reported and the allegations about migrants’ human rights being violated could not be confirmed. Leggeri added that representatives of the European Commission paid a visit to the Hungarian-Serbian border on October 18-19, 2016 and they found no proof of police abusing their power, the statement added.
via hungarymatters.hu and MTI;
cover photo: Hungarian police officers standing in the way of migrants near the border crossing point of Röszke in September 2015 – photo by Zoltán Gergely Kelemen – MTI