01 July 2016
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The amendments to the Asylum Act and the Act on State Border that entered into force today allow the Hungarian police to automatically push back asylum-seekers who are apprehended within 8 km (5 miles) of either the Serbian-Hungarian or the Croatian-Hungarian border to the external side of the border fence. Legalising push-backs from deep within Hungarian territory denies asylum-seekers the right to seek international protection, in breach of relevant obligations emanating from international and EU law. In particular:
Márta Pardavi, co-chair of the HHC commented on the amendments as follows:
“We have reached a new stage in the politically motivated dismantling of the Hungarian asylum system. Neither the barbed wire fence, nor the various legal amendments that are in breach of international norms could halt the people fleeing from war and terror from reaching Hungary. This year, more than 17 000 irregular migrants crossed the fence, and even more people applied for asylum in Hungary, in majority fleeing from the horrors in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Despite Hungary’s insistence, Serbia refuses to officially readmit any asylum-seeker that entered Hungary from its territory. As the Hungarian government’s expensive and inhuman deterrence strategy failed, only ‘extrajudicial’ options remain, such as push-backs to the external side of the border fence, without any official procedure – no matter how much human suffering it entails.”
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also released a strongly critical statement today:
“We are concerned at the entry into force today, 5 July, of a law enabling the Hungarian police to escort irregular migrants found within eight kilometres of the border with Serbia to transit zones at the border. We are worried that the wording of the law leaves too much room for interpretation and may result in law enforcement agencies not respecting the human rights of migrants and breaching international law, by forcibly expelling them without any form of legal procedure. With hundreds of people already waiting in the strip of land between the Serbian passport control and the Hungarian barbed wire fence, we also fear that this measure will only worsen the existing desperate and inhuman conditions at the border.” 
 Directive 2013/32/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 on common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection (recast), Recital 25, Articles 6 and 9
 UNHCR, Hungary as a country of asylum, May 2016. See paragraph 71.: http://tinyurl.com/js43ed2
 UNHCR, Serbia as a country of asylum, August 2012: http://tinyurl.com/gmuk5j3 and UN Committee Against Torture, Concluding observations on the second periodic report of Serbia, June 2015. See paragraph 15.: http://tinyurl.com/juhss6j
 The HHC recently published a short report on the unacceptable conditions in these areas: http://tinyurl.com/hk78rbp
 Full text of the press briefing note: http://tinyurl.com/zar7qcf
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