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UN Urges Orbán Gov’t to Withdraw New Asylum Law

Péter Cseresnyés 2020.07.01.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) issued a statement expressing concern about a newly adopted law in Hungary, effectively requiring asylum seekers to make their application at Hungarian consulates in a neighboring country rather than at the Hungarian border. The Orbán government rendered the stance of the agency as an attempt to disable yet another form of control over illegal migration.

The new act, ending the state-of-emergency declared in response to the novel coronavirus epidemic, requires asylum seekers to submit applications at consulates and embassies in neighboring countries rather than at the Hungarian border. UNHCR thinks the rules further undermine access to asylum for those fleeing war or persecution.

In a statement issued on Monday, the organization asked the government to initiate the withdrawal of the regulation accepted by Parliament on June 16th. According to the agency, the act could also breach international and EU laws.

CJEU: Placing Asylum Seekers in Hungary Transit Zone Constitutes ‘Detention’

“This may expose asylum-seekers to the risk of refoulement and ill-treatment which would amount to a violation of the 1951 Refugee Convention and other international and regional human rights instruments to which Hungary is a State Party,” the UNHCR underlined in the statement.

“When presented with an asylum request at its borders, a member state is required under international and EU law to provide admission at least on a temporary basis to examine the claim, as the right to seek asylum and the non-refoulement principle are otherwise rendered meaningless,” the UN agency said.

“Effective access to territory is an essential pre-condition to be able to exercise the right to seek asylum,” UNHCR added.

Gov’t to Scrap Transit Zones after CJEU Ruling

In response to the statement, the Government Information Center noted that until recently, asylum seekers had to submit their applications in the transit zones set up on the southern border. However, Hungary “was recently asked” by the Court of Justice of the European Union to close the transit zones, which the government complied with, they said. Since then, migrants arriving via the Balkan route can submit their asylum requests at Hungary’s foreign consulates, they added.

“The UNHCR’s statement implies that it wants to eliminate even this form of control over illegal migration and that they want us to let migrants into Hungary and the EU’s territory freely without any checks,” the center said. “Hungary disagrees with this, as the Hungarian people have made it clear through the National Consultation surveys on multiple occasions that they want no part of illegal migration.”

In May, the CJEU ruled that holding asylum seekers indefinitely in detention in its so-called transit zones while their applications are processed violates EU law. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán then accused the EU top court of trying to trick Hungary into allowing all illegal migrants into the country. As a response, the government further tightened asylum rules.

Featured photo by Edvárd Molnár/MTI