Amnesty International and Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks have this week raised serious concerns about the situation for asylum seekers and refugees in Hungary. Unlawful detention, violation of the right to asylum, labyrinthine asylum procedures and “institutionalized xenophobia” are only some of the issues highlighted by both.  Hungary is urged to bring its migration and asylum policies in line with EU and international law obligations.

“If Hungary persists in its defiant policy that flouts human rights law, it will meet with further international criticism and possible legal sanctions,” Commissioner Muiznieks stressed. “The European Commission has already begun “infringement procedures” against Hungary for breaching European Union law on asylum. The Commission also has the power to bring a case before the European Court of Justice, if a member state fails to conform to European Union law.”

Amnesty International calls on the European Commission to examine Hungary’s anti-refugee and anti-migrant policies and to conclude the infringement proceedings. The organisation also urges the country to repeal the laws that allow for the automatic pushback of people potentially in need of international protection from the territory of Hungary to the border area of Hungary and Serbia.

“Prime Minister Orbán has replaced the rule of law with the rule of fear. His attempts to deliberately prevent refugees and migrants from reaching Hungary have been accompanied by an ever more disturbing pattern of attacks on them and the international safeguards designed to protect them,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe.

This weekend, Hungarian citizens will vote in a referendum on the following question: “Do you want the EU to prescribe the mandatory settlement of non-Hungarian citizens to Hungary without the approval of the National Assembly?”. Ahead of the vote, the government spent over 10 million euros of public money on a xenophobic campaign to divert public opinion.

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This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 30 September 2016. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.