Hungary adopts list of safe countries of origin and safe third countries

Hungary has adopted a list of safe countries of origin and safe third countries through Government Decree 191/2015, published on 21 July 2015.

The list includes the following countries as both “safe countries of origin” and “safe third countries”:

  • EEA Member States
  • Canada
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • USA (except federal states which practice capital punishment)
  • Albania
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
  • Kosovo
  • Montenegro
  • Serbia

By designating a country as “safe country of origin”, Hungary may reject an application as unfounded on the basis that the applicant faces no risk of persecution or serious harm in his or her home country. The burden of proof lies with the asylum seeker to rebut the presumption that such a country is safe.

Moreover, a “safe third country” designation enables Hungarian authorities to dismiss asylum applications as inadmissible on the presumption that applicants transiting through such a state have had genuine opportunities of seeking and obtaining protection. The designation of Serbia, which was the transit point for 99% of the approximately 86,000 persons who have applied for asylum in Hungary since the beginning of 2015, as a “safe third country” is highly alarming, as it effectively enables Hungary to refuse to examine almost all applications for international protection made on its territory. Such a designation also departs from previous pronouncements by UNHCR and the Hungarian Supreme Court in 2012, which found that Serbia does not offer genuine opportunities for protection in order to be considered a “safe third country”.

The legal basis for the Hungarian list of safe countries of origin and safe third countries was only recently provided by a July 2015 amendment to the Asylum Act, which was adopted with unprecedented expediency by the Parliament in spite of concerns expressed by civil society organisations and UNHCR.


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