4 July 2014

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has ruled that the return of an Afghan asylum seeker from Austria to Hungary under the Dublin Regulation would not violate Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights. The applicant had complained that he would be subjected to arbitrary detention in poor conditions if removed to Hungary.

While noting that in Hungary ‘the grounds for detention are vaguely formulated, and there is no legal remedy against asylum detention’, the ECtHR found that 2013 amendments to Hungarian asylum law had improved the system: ‘there is no systematic detention of asylum-seekers anymore, and … alternatives to detention are now provided for by law. The maximum period of detention has been limited to six months’.

The ECtHR also noted that UNHCR has never issued a position paper requesting EU Member States to refrain from transferring asylum seekers to Hungary, as they have for Greece and, temporarily, for Bulgaria.

The applicant had also submitted that, if returned to Hungary, the authorities might refuse to consider his asylum claim and deport him to Serbia, the country through which he travelled on his journey to Hungary and Austria. The ECtHR concluded that, following the legislative amendments, asylum seekers sent back to Hungary under the Dublin procedure whose claims have not already been examined and decided in Hungary (as is the case with the present applicant) have access to a full examination of their claims. The ECtHR also noted that Hungary no longer considers Serbia to be a ‘safe third country’.

This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 4 July 2014.
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