Conditions in detention facilities


Country Report: Conditions in detention facilities Last updated: 19/04/23


Hungarian Helsinki Committee Visit Website

Living conditions and physical security

Asylum detention

Detained asylum seekers have the right to unsupervised contact with their relatives, to send and receive correspondence, to practice religion and to spend at least one hour per day outdoors.[1] The Asylum Decree also specifies minimum requirements for such facilities, including material conditions such as freedom of movement, access to open air, as well as access to recreational facilities, internet and phones, and a 24-hour availability of social workers. According to the Decree, there should be at least 15m3 of air space and 5m2 of floor space per person in the living quarters of asylum seekers, while for married couples and families with minor children there should be a separate living space of at least 8m2, taking the number of family members into account.[2] In practice, asylum seekers’ time outdoors is not restricted during the day. They are able to make telephone calls every day, but only if they can afford to purchase a phone card, as their mobile phones are taken away by the authorities on arrival.

At the end of 2021, there were no asylum seekers placed in asylum detention. During the year 2021, there were only 2 asylum seekers detained, therefore there are no problems with overcrowding. During the year 2022, there were 7 asylum seekers detained, therefore there are no problems with overcrowding.

Men must be detained separately from women, with the exception of spouses, and families with children are also to be separated from other detainees.[3]

Religious diet is always respected. Specific diets are taken into account, however the HHC is aware of a case where a detainee despite the medical staff being aware of his medical conditions managed to get a special diet only after he refused to eat the regular food for several days. The nutritional value of the food is regulated in the legal act.

Asylum detention facilities are managed by the NDGAP. Security in the centres is provided by trained police officers.

Regarding records of ill-treatment, the CPT finds that ‘the records of medical consultations were often rather cursory, lacking details, in particular when it came to the recording of injuries. Moreover, it remained somewhat unclear to the delegation to what extent allegations of ill-treatment and related injuries were reported to the management and relevant authorities.’[4]

In Nyírbátor, when escorted from the facility to court for hearings, or on other outings (such as to visit a hospital, bank or post office), detained asylum seekers are handcuffed and escorted on leashes, which are normally used for the accused in criminal proceedings.

Asylum seekers can access open-air freely, during the day (contrary to the immigration jails, where open-air access is guaranteed only one hour per day). Open-air space is of adequate size. Each centre also has a fitness room.

According to the HHC experience, the Nyírbátor the open-air space is problematic. The yard is covered with sand, which makes it difficult to practice certain sports (e.g. basketball), and in rainy or cold weather it makes it almost impossible to pursue the sports activities. The detainees complained that the sand makes them very dirty and destroys their shoes. In addition, there are still no benches or trees to assure the shade or protection from the sunlight and rain.

According to the HHC experience, detainees have access to internet. The computer room was renovated in 2021, and computers work more efficiently than prior to the renovation. In Nyírbátor, the detention centre has a small library. Mobile phones are not allowed, but there is access to public phones inside the centre.

Transit zones (prior to their closure in May 2020)

The conditions in the transit zones of Röszke and Tompa were problematic.[5]

The ECtHR has now ruled multiple times on the inadequate living conditions in the transit zones. On 2 March 2021, the ECtHR ruled in its judgment in R.R. and others v. Hungary that detention conditions in the Röszke transit zone amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment. The ECtHR pointed to the obligations under the Reception Conditions Directive that require that the specific situation of minors and pregnant women be taken into account, along with any special reception needs linked to their status throughout the duration of the asylum procedure. It observed that no individualised assessment of the special needs of the applicants were carried out by the Hungarian authorities. In view of, inter alia, the physical conditions of the containers in which the applicants were accommodated, the unsuitability of the facilities for children, the lack of professional psychological assistance and the duration of the stay in the transit zone, the Court found that the threshold of severity required to engage Article 3 of the ECHR had been reached, and Hungary had therefore violated the provision. In 2022, four more judgements followed, finding the breach of Article 3 and 13 with regard to detention conditions in the transit zone[6] and 16 cases were communicated.[7]

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as a preventive measure in the asylum detention centre of Nyírbátor, as well as in the transit zones the visitor rooms and offices for the purpose of personal interviews had been installed with a plexiglass wall.[8] In addition, the same preventive health safety measures on account of the COVID-19 pandemic are observed in asylum detention as in reception facilities (see above under Access to reception centres by third parties).[9]


Access to health care in detention

Asylum detention

Asylum seekers are entitled only to basic medical care. Paramedical nurses are present in the centre all the time and general practitioners regularly visit the facilities. However, the medical care provided is often criticised by detainees. They rarely have access to specialised medical care when requested and are only taken to the hospital in emergency cases. In severe cases of self-harm, detainees are taken to the local psychiatric ward. In the absence of interpretation services available, the patient is usually released after a short stay and some medical treatment provided. Such emergency interventions, however, do not contribute to detainees’ overall mental wellbeing and sometimes even fuel further tensions between them. Those, however, whose condition is not deemed to fall under the scope of emergency treatment, are not eligible to see a dentist, cardiologist or psychiatrist. No systematic, specialised and state-funded medical care and monitoring is ensured for victims of torture or other forms of violence in asylum or immigration detention.[10] Detainees complain about receiving the same medication for a range of different medical problems (e.g. sleeping pills, aspirin). The language barrier is also an issue. There is no regular psychosocial support available in any of the detention centres. However, on a case by case basis, visits from Cordelia Foundation can be arranged. In 2021, the Foundation did 3 such visits. During consultation hours, interpretation is not provided in Nyírbátor.  Due to the fact that HHC is no longer allowed to monitor the situation in detention centres no updated information can be provided on the incidents that might have occurred there.

Transit zones (prior to their closure in May 2020)

For health care in the transit zones see previous AIDA reports.[11]

When finding a violation of Article 3 in the transit zone cases, the ECtHR made the following findings with regard to medical care in R.R. and Others case: it finds disconcerting the lack of medical documentation for the applicant child and the applicants’ undisputed allegation, confirmed also by the CPT report, that she had not been given the vaccines recommended at her age. It also accepts that outside medical treatment in the presence of (male) police officers, an allegation not disputed by the Government, must have caused a degree of discomfort to the applicants, particularly during the second applicant’s gynaecological examinations. Of further concern to the Court is the fact that at the material time there was no professional psychological assistance available for traumatised asylum-seekers in the transit zone.[12] In H.M. and Others case the Court found that handcuffing the husband and attaching him to a leash when accompanying his pregnant wife to a hospital diminished his human dignity and was in itself degrading and unjustified.[13]


Conditions for vulnerable asylum seekers

Asylum detention

Under Section 31/F of the Asylum Act, detention must take into account the special needs of the person concerned.[14]

Vulnerable persons, except unaccompanied children, are not excluded from detention. The HHC in the past regularly saw that persons with special needs such as the elderly, persons with mental or physical disability detained and not receiving adequate support. A mechanism to identify persons with special needs does not exist within the asylum procedure (see Identification of vulnerable persons). The lack of a systematic identification mechanism led to the frequent detention of torture victims and other traumatised asylum seekers, as well as making existing legal safeguards ineffective. There are no special conditions for vulnerable asylum seekers in detention. An asylum seeker in 2021 was detained despite being in need of special medical treatment that was not available in detention. No vulnerable asylum seekers were detained in 2022.

There is no systematic training for those who order, uphold or carry out the detention of asylum seekers regarding the needs of victims of torture, rape or other serious acts of violence. It is therefore questionable to what extent the authority is capable to carry out the assessment of vulnerabilities and special needs in the framework of detention, given that no expert psychologists and doctors are employed to this end. The NDGAP may decide to use the assistance of external medical or psychological specialists. However, this is not a common or frequent practice.[15]

Transit zones (prior to their closure in May 2020)

See Vulnerable applicants in transit zones.




[1] Section 31/F(3) Asylum Act.

[2] Section 36/D Asylum Decree.

[3] Section 31/F(1) Asylum Act.

[4] Ibid, para 48.

[5] For further information about the situation prior to that, see previous updates of this report, available at:

[6] M.B.K. and Others v. Hungary, Appl. no. 73860/17, 24 February 2022; A.A.A. and Others v. Hungary, Appl.  no. 37327/17, 9 June 2022; W.O. and Others, Appl. no. 36896/18, 25 August 2022 and H.M. and Others v. Hungary, Appl. no. 38967/17, 2 June 2022.

[7] Z.L. and Others v. Hungary, Appl. no. 13899/19; S.A.B. and S.A.R. v. Others, Appl. no. 17089/19; Z.A. v. Hungary, Appl. no. 30056/18; H.L. v. Hungary, Appl. no. 37641/19; M.A. and others v. Hungary, Appl. no. 58680/18; ARAB and Others v. Hungary, Appl. no. 16217/19; F.O. and others v. Hungary, Appl. no. 9203/18; K.K.S. v. Hungary, Appl. no. 32660/18; H.A. and others v. Hungary, Appl. no. 39498/18; P.S. and A.M. v. Hungary, Appl. no. 53272/17; M. H. v. Hungary, Appl. no. 652/18; A.P. v. Hungary, Appl. no. 18581/19; M.S.H. v. Hungary, Appl. no. 44283/19; S.H. v. Hungary, Appl. no. 47321/19; O.Q. v. Hungary, Appl. no. 53528/19; F.S. and A.S. v. Hungary, Appl. no. 50872/18.

[8] Information provided by the NDGAP on 2 March 2021 and by the HHC attorneys regarding the information concerning the transit zones.

[9] Information provided by NDGAP on 7 February 2022.

[10] Cordelia Foundation et al., From Torture to Detention: Access of Torture Survivor and Traumatised Asylum-Seekers to Rights and Care in Detention, Hungary and Bulgaria, January 2016, available at:

[11] For further information about the situation prior to that, see previous updates of this report, available at:

[12] ECtHR, R.R. v. Hungary, Appl. no. 36037/17, 2 March 2021.

[13] ECtHR, H.M. and Others v. Hungary, Appl. no. 38967/17, 2 June 2022.

[14] Section 31/F(1) Asylum Act.

[15] Cordelia Foundation et al., From Torture to Detention: Access of Torture Survivor and Traumatised Asylum-Seekers to Rights and Care in Detention, Hungary and Bulgaria, January 2016, available at:

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation