Country Report: General Last updated: 30/11/20


Hungarian Helsinki Committee Visit Website

Detention has become a frequent practice rather than an exceptional measure in Hungary, although most of asylum seekers are detained in the transit zones and not in officially recognized places of deprivation of liberty – asylum detention centres.[1] In 2017, only 391 asylum seekers were detained in what is formally described as asylum detention. These numbers further decreased in 2018, since there were only 7 asylum seekers in asylum detention.[2] In 2019, 40 people were placed in asylum detention.[3]

Asylum detention of asylum seekers: 2014-2019


Asylum applicants detained

Total asylum applicants


























Source: former IAO and NDGAP.


The vast majority of asylum seekers (433) were detained in the transit zones. Taken together, the number of applicants (together with the number of subsequent applicants) detained in transit zones and asylum detention made up 93.6% of the total number of asylum seekers.

There were 40 asylum seekers detained in the Nyírbátor asylum detention centre in 2019. Kiskunhalas and Békéscsaba are closed.

There are also 3 immigration detention centres in Budapest Airport Police Directorate, Nyírbátor, and Győr, which hold persons waiting to be deported. Asylum seekers who no longer have a right to remain on the territory are also held there.

Since 28 March 2017, all asylum seekers entering the transit zones of Röszke and Tompa are de facto detained, although the Hungarian authorities refuse to recognise that this is detention. The fact that asylum seekers inside the transit zones are deprived of their freedom of movement is also confirmed by the UNWGAD,[4] CPT,[5] UNHCR,[6] UNHRC,[7] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,[8] UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants,[9] European Commission,[10] and Commissioner on Human Rights of the Council of Europe.[11]

On 14 March 2017, the ECtHR issued a long-awaited judgment in the HHC-represented Ilias and Ahmed v. Hungary case. The Court confirmed its established jurisprudence that confinement in the transit zones in Hungary amounted to unlawful detention and established the violation of Article 5(1), a violation of Article 5(4) and a violation of Article 13 in conjunction with Article 3 of the Convention due to the lack of effective remedy to complain about the conditions of detention in the transit zone. The government appealed against the judgment and the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR[12] did not agree with the Chamber’s unanimous decision concerning the nature of the placement in the transit zone and ruled that the applicants were not deprived of their liberty within the meaning of Article 5. The HHC believes that this finding is applicable only to the situation in the material time of the case, therefore before March 2017, when the stay in the transit zone was for max. 28 days, when the border procedure was conducted and vulnerable applicants were not held there. If prolonged placement in the transit zone for the whole duration of asylum procedure, without a time limit and applicable to all asylum seekers, including the most vulnerable also does not amount to deprivation of liberty remains to be seen, as there are several pending cases at the ECtHR and one at UNWGAD.

In 2019, a total of 433 asylum seekers were de facto detained in the transit zones.

At present two transit zones are in operation: the Röszke transit zone is suitable for accommodating 450 asylum seekers whereas the Tompa transit zone is suitable for accommodating 250 asylum seekers.


[1]HHC, Statistical Brief Series on formal detention orders vs placement in the transit zones, 3 February 2019, available at:

[2]Information provided by former IAO, 12 February 2019.

[3]Information provided by NDGAP, 3 February 2020.

[4]UNWGAD, ‘UN human rights experts suspend Hungary visit after access denied’, 15 November 2018, available at:; UNHCR, Hungary as a country of asylum, May 2016.

[5]CPT, Report on the visit to Hungary from 20 to 26 October 2017, CPT/Inf(2018) 42, 18 September 2018, available at:

[6]UNHCR, ‘UNHCR Chief visits Hungary, calls for greater access to asylum, end to detention and more solidarity with refugees’, 12 September 2017, available at:

[7]Human Rights Committee, Concluding observations on the sixth periodic report of Hungary, CCPR/C/HUN/CO/6, 9 May 2018, available at:

[8]UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Press briefing notes on Iran and Hungary, 3 May 2019, available at:

[9] OHCHR, End of visit statement of the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Felipe González Morales, 17 July 2019, available at:

[10]European Commission, Migration and Asylum: Commission takes further steps in infringement procedures against Hungary, 19 July 2018, available at:

[11]Commissioner for Human Rights Of The Council Of Europe, Dunja mijatović , Report following her visit to Hungary from 4 to 8 February 2019, 21 May 2019, available at:

[12]ECtHR (Grand Chamber), Ilias and Ahmed v. Hungary, Application no. 47287/15, 21 November 2019.


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