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Hungary Confining Migrants to Transit Zone Not Unlawful, says European Court of Human Rights

MTI-Hungary Today 2019.11.22.

The European Court of Human Rights, acting as a secondary court, has ruled that Hungarian authorities violated some rules in the case of two asylum seekers, but said that confining them to the transit zone at Hungary’s southern border was not against the law.

The two Bangladeshi nationals applied for asylum in Hungary in September 2015. The authorities kept them in detention at Röszke for three weeks, before expelling them to Serbia.

The ECtHR, in the first instance, in 2017, ruled against Hungary saying the migrants’ detention had equalled imprisonment. The Hungarian government appealed the ruling and the case was heard again by the court’s Grand Chamber.

Justice minister: ECtHR decision in favour of govt, ‘sovereign and legitimate border protection’

Justice Minister Judit Varga said on Thursday that a European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruling today determined that staying in Hungary’s transit zone did not count as illegal detention and conditions in the zone were consistent with the prohibition of inhumane treatment.

ECtHR’s Thursday’s ruling said that the asylum seekers entered the transit zone of their own free will and had been held there lawfully by the Hungarian authorities, Varga said. They were free to return to Serbia, she added.

Justice Minister Judit Varga. Photo by Gergely Botár/kormany.hu

Varga said that the Hungarian government’s stance is that the lawsuit had been a “political attack” and “an attempt by pro-migration forces to keep Hungary under pressure and dismantle its border protection.”

The transit zone, offered a regulated, controlled way to enter the country and request asylum, she said. Residents of the transit zone are not detained there but enter of their own free will and stay until the assessment of their asylum request is completed or until they leave for Serbia, she added. The Hungarian authorities are doing their job, she said. However, the facility is “under constant political and legal attack”, she said.

“[This] momentous decision means the political and legal attacks against Hungarian immigration policy and border protection have failed,” Varga said.