UN special rapporteur slams Hungary's treatment of migrants

July, 2019

The UN special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Felipe Gonzalez Morales, fiercely criticized Hungary's treatment of migrants in recent years. He also accused the country's government of hijacking the perceived threat posed by a falsely perceived migrant influx for political gains, perpetuating the ruling Fidesz Party's strongly anti-immigrant stance.

There was "no mass influx of migrants and asylum seekers" to Hungary, he declared at a news conference held in Budapest, stressing that he would call "upon the Hungarian government to end the declaration of (a) migration crisis and to update the measures linked to it."

He added that no such regulation should override human rights in any case: "If in reality there is no mass influx of immigration, the security situation cannot be considered the same as four years ago," he said, underlining the fact that the Hungarian government's position that such a crisis could resurface was not a sufficient reason for Hungary to keep renewing the state of emergency ever six months.

Gonzalez Morales also highlighted that he regarded the state of emergency imposed by right-wing nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban since 2015 as being utilized to justify measures intended to deter migrants from entering the country.

Gonzalez Morales was particularly outspoken against the practice of holding migrants in controversial transit zones on Hungary's border with Serbia. Set up in 2017, the transit zones serve as a one-stop center to file asylum applications, where migrants then have to remain and wait to learn the outcome of their claims.

"It's a prison-like environment; it's detention," Gonzalez Morales said about the transit zones, stressing that they were "secured by barbed-wired fences, also inside." With more than half of the 280 people currently held in transit zones being underage, Gonzalez Morales further remarked that "children should not be put in detention based on their migration situation."

"I am afraid that all people held there regardless of age acts as a sort of deterrent," he said, adding that the fact that people held in the transit zones could leave these zones towards Serbia at any time "does not prevent me from saying these are places of detention."

Gonzalez Morales meanwhile also stressed the lack of access for independent monitoring of the divisive transit zones. He highlighted that a particular area, where rejected asylum seekers where held, was even closed to employees of the UN refugee agency UNHCR. There have been reports of starvation coming from these areas.

Source: Info Migrants