UN human rights experts suspended an official visit to Hungary after they had been denied access to the Röszke and Tompa transit zones on the Hungary-Serbia border, the UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR) said on its website on Thursday.
According to the statement, the organisation has credible reports concerning the lack of safeguards against arbitrary detention in these facilities.
“There can be no doubt that holding migrants in these ‘transit zones’ constitutes deprivation of liberty in accordance with international law,” said Elina Steinerte and Setondji Roland Adjovi, members of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
The delegation had been invited by Hungary to conduct a visit from 12 to 16 November 2018 in order to follow up on its 2013 recommendations.
Under the terms of reference for visits by independent experts appointed by the UN’s Human Rights Council, governments are required to guarantee freedom of inquiry particularly as regards to “confidential and unsupervised contacts with persons deprived of their liberty”, the statement said.
The experts said they regretted that the Hungarian authorities have not respected those undertakings and as a result the Working Group was prevented from fulfilling its mandate, it added.
“Unimpeded access to all places of deprivation of liberty including these transit zones must be guaranteed to independent international, regional and national organisations,” the experts said. “This is vital for the protection of the human rights in a country governed by rule of law.
At the same time, the Working Group said it hoped that the government of Hungary would enter into a constructive dialogue to enable the delegates resume their visit in the near future and to work together to establish effective safeguards against the risk of arbitrary deprivation of liberty in Hungary.
German news agency dpa said that under Hungary’s new asylum law, Serbia is labelled as a safe country and any asylum seeker who transits through Serbia is therefore rejected by Hungarian authorities.
featured image via Gergely Kelemen Zoltán/ MTI