8 October 2015

A briefing released by Amnesty International has revealed that Hungary spent more than three times as much installing razor-wire fencing as part of its border controls as it does annually on receiving asylum seekers, with the cost of the fence between Hungary and Serbia approaching €100 million.

The report from Amnesty, titled ‘Fenced Out’, while acknowledging that there has been a large rise in the numbers of people applying for asylum in this year, and that this presents challenges, says that Hungary’s response seems to be trying to insulate itself against a global refugee crisis, an effort that can only be achieved at the expense of the respect of its international human rights and refugee law obligations. The report therefore calls upon the European Council to issue a warning to Hungary that they are seriously risking breaching the respect for the rule of law and human rights, and to work alongside Hungary to ensure that it participates fully in collective initiatives and reforms designed to address the current refugee crisis.

The briefing gives an overview of how events have unfolded in Hungary over the month of September, documenting the excessive use of force used against refugees and migrants, the introduction of laws to criminalise irregular entry into Hungary, the shortcomings of a recently-introduced accelerated asylum procedure, the breach of its obligations to ensure the right of effective remedy in appeals against decisions on asylum procedure and the use of force during fingerprinting procedures.  

John Dalhuisen, from Amnesty International, said that “the cost of these abhorrent anti-refugee operations is staggering and comes at the price of rights, health and well-being of thousands of people”, adding that it is “time for all EU Member States to urgently invest in a compassionate and coordinated solution”.

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This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 9 October 2015. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.