A case compilation from ECRE member Hungarian Helsinki Committee reveals that the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has for the 18th time granted interim measures in cases of food depravation involving 28 individuals in the Hungarian transit zone. The starvation tactics continue despite warnings from the European Commission in October 2019 and civil society urges member states to intervene.

In a case involving an Afghan man forced to rely on food rations from his pregnant wife and daughter the Hungarian Helsinki Committee obtained interim measures (Rule 39) from the European Court of Human Rights “to ensure that our client held in the transit zone is provided with food.” The organisation has obtained such measures for 28 people between August 2018 and February 2020 involving food deprivation from one to eight days.

The organisation categorically rejects the position of the Hungarian government that food deprivation is lawful since “Hungary is not responsible for those who have not requested asylum and those whose requests have been denied” because: “Guaranteeing food supplies for people in closed facilities is a basic obligation of the state, no matter if the concerned individual is an asylum-seeker or an expelled person.”

In October the European Commission took another step in its infringement procedures against Hungary issuing a reasoned opinion stating that food deprivation violates Article 16 of the Return Directive and Article 4 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

The Geneva based Human Rights organisation Euro-Med Monitor issued a statement on February 8 calling on: “EU member states to intervene to see an end to Hungary’s violations of refugees’ and asylum seekers’ basic rights, by pressuring the Hungarian government to take full responsibility for people in its custody…”

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Photo: (CC) Rebecca Harms, May 2016

This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin . You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.