On 7 March 2017, the Hungarian Parliament approved a new law under which asylum seekers will be automatically detained in “container” camps at the borders. Among concerning aspects of the new law, is the fact that applications will be declared inadmissible for anyone who entered Hungary from Serbia or a “safe third country” and that the period of appeal will be limited to three days.

NGOs and international organisations have raised serious concerns about the new legislation. The Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights stated that the new law “would be in clear violation of Hungary’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights”, while UNHCR highlighted that Hungary would be in violation of both international and European law. On its part, Afshan Khan, UNICEF’s regional director in Europe, warned that the law “effectively criminalizes children and robs them of their rights”.

The new law is yet another example of Hungary’s continued crackdown on asylum seekers’ rights. The new legislation will further reinforce the already systematic use of immigration detention, as demonstrated in the updated AIDA report on Hungary. The legislative initiatives are accompanied by a systematic human rights violations by police and border authorities. Médecins Sans Frontières outlined that it treated 106 patients with intentional injuries allegedly perpetrated by Hungarian border patrols, from January 2016 to February 2017 alone.

The European Commission is being called by NGOs and parliamentary groups, such as the Greens/EFA, to launch new infringement proceedings against Hungary, since the proceedings launched on December 2015 due to already existing concerns with the Hungarian asylum law seemed to reach no result.

On 14 March, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the border-zone detention of two asylum-seekers was unlawful and that their expulsion to Serbia exposed them to a real risk of being subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment.

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