In a new report, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC), UNHCR and the Hungarian National Police Headquarters summarized the experiences gathered in 2013 in the course of the border monitoring programme at the Hungarian-Serbian border.

According to the report, in 2013, the Hungarian police continued to routinely expel unaccompanied children, who are not asylum seekers, to Serbia. HHC border monitoring observed cases in which the police ignored information provided by the intercepted children, about the whereabouts of close family members. The children were deported to Serbia despite having provided information about their relatives’ location elsewhere, inside the Schengen zone. In the report, the HHC and UNHCR encourage thorough and individualized assessment of the best interests of the child in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The HHC further urges the Hungarian authorities to provide training to unaccompanied children’s guardians to safeguard their rights as laid out in the convention.

Instead of seeking asylum in Hungary, many of those intercepted at the borders in 2013 decided to return to Serbia, where protection and asylum procedures are still inadequate, according to the HHC and UNHCR, and many go without an in-merit examination of their asylum applications. If fingerprinted in Hungary, generally, asylum applicants would not have the merits of their cases considered elsewhere in Europe and would face deportation back to Hungary on grounds of the Dublin Regulation, regardless of their need for protection.

The HHC and UNHCR urged the Hungarian authorities to reconsider their stance on Serbia as a safe third country, due to substantial deficiencies of Serbian international protection procedures. A third country is considered to be ‘safe’ on the assumption that individuals could have sought international protection there.

According to data provided by the police, 3,671 people (86% of all the 4,268 expelled foreigners in 2013) were deported to Serbia. 19,035 persons were intercepted at the Hungarian-Serbian borders, of which 17,117 applied for asylum in Hungary.

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This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 12 September 2014. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.