20 March 2015

A new AIDA report by the Hungarian Helsinki Committee underlines that judicial review of immigration and asylum detention in Hungary continues to be ineffective, in breach of EU law and with no sign of efforts being made to solve the problem. The Hungarian Helsinki Committee stresses that the courts’ decisions upholding detention do not provide individual reasoning with regards to the lawfulness and proportionality of detention and fail to consider the individual circumstances of the persons concerned.

Furthermore, detention is reviewed every 60 days, which excludes it being used  for as short a period as possible and only until the grounds for detention are applicable as required by EU law.

Vulnerable persons – except for unaccompanied children- such as the elderly and persons with disabilities can also be detained and left without adequate support. In practice, since September 2014, families with children are often detained. Children do not attend school and are intimidated by police officers and armed security guards in uniform, with truncheons and handcuffs.

4,829 asylum seekers were detained in Hungary in 2014. The maximum period of asylum detention is six months. Families with children under 18 years of age may not be detained for more than 30 days.

The Hungarian Helsinki Committee underlines, that although Hungarian legislation provides that the needs of asylum seekers with special needs should be addressed, there is no practical identification mechanism in place to identify such persons.

The AIDA report also shows the difficulties for persons trying to join their family members living as refugees in Hungary. First of all, they have to show that they lawfully reside in the country where they submit the claim. This is impossible for those who live as refugees in third countries, and, there, are unable to obtain a legal status; as in the case of Palestinians from Syria who are refused legal entry into Lebanon and Jordan. Furthermore, Hungary does not accept certain travel documents, such as, for example, those issued by Somalia, and does not apply, in such cases, any alternative measures that would enable a one-way travel for the purpose of family reunification.

42,777 people applied for asylum in Hungary in 2014, which constitutes a 226% increase compared to the number of applications in 2013. In addition, 24,000 applications were lodged in the first two months of 2015 alone. The Hungarian Helsinki Committee has warned that plans publicly announced, by the Hungarian government, to enable authorities to immediately detain and return all migrants entering irregularly in Hungary, including asylum seekers, would violate EU and international obligations and would further undermine the country’s commitment to European democratic values. 

The Asylum Information Database (AIDA) is an ECRE project mapping asylum procedures, reception conditions and detention in Europe. The database covers 16 EU countries, and will soon be enlarged to include Switzerland and Turkey.

For further information:


This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 20 March 2015. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.