Hungary’s Parliament has passed amendments to several laws relating to migration and asylum at an extraordinary session. The new legislation will speed up procedures for assessing the claims of asylum-seekers and will allow for economic migrants to be turned back as quickly as possible. The bill was submitted by Interior Minister Sándor Pintér last week and passed with 151 votes in favour and 42 against.
Under the amendments, the current two-tier asylum process will be simplified by combining the two phases of investigating the asylum-seeker’s identity into a single step. The proceedings would last until a final decision is made on the request, meaning that the asylum-seeker would be detained during the entire process. A new regulation allowing asylum-seekers to be questioned at the place of confinement also aims to speed up proceedings.
The legislation will also limit the rights for those who have submitted asylum requests multiple times to stay in Hungary while their requests are being processed. The law on immigration of citizens from third countries was amended by allowing the immigration authority to demand payment equal to the costs of damage caused by the migrants to the state.
Last week the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has asked Hungary not to fast-track amendments to its asylum laws. The UN refugee agency said it was “deeply concerned” because the proposed amendments to Hungary’s laws on asylum would be “devastating” for thousands of people seeking asylum in Hungary. Montserrat Feixas Vihe, UNHCR regional representative for central Europe, asked the Hungarian government and parliament to ensure that asylum laws remain compatible with international and regional protection standards.
Responding to the criticism received from international organisations such as the UNHCR, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in an interview with public radio that these international organisations are afraid of the future. The next few years won’t be easy because of migrations, but “we can see the tasks ahead, we have a schedule and we have action plans”; we must implement these rather than fearing the future, he said. “While we are protecting Hungary we are also protecting the European Union” and this is not unprecedented in history, Viktor Orbán said.
via hungarymatters.hu and MTI photo: Gergely Botár – kormany.hu