Overview of the main changes since the previous report update


Country Report: Overview of the main changes since the previous report update Last updated: 30/11/20


Hungarian Helsinki Committee Visit Website

The report was previously updated in March 2019.


A quasi-state of exception has been introduced into Hungarian law in September 2015, entitled as the “state of crisis due to mass migration”. During this state of crisis special rules apply to third-country nationals irregularly entering and/or staying in Hungary and to those seeking asylum, and certain provisions of the Asylum Act are suspended. During his visit to Hungary, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants urged the government to immediately terminate this ‘state of emergency’; he noted that he could not see a single migrant approaching Hungary from the Serbian side of the border, and deemed the extension unnecessary.[1]


Asylum procedure


  • State of crisis: The state of crisis due to mass migration had been extended once again and is currently in effect until 7 September 2020. This means that asylum may still only be sought at the border (inside the transit zone) and that asylum seekers are continued to be held in the transit zones for the entire asylum procedure, without any legal basis for detention or judicial remedies. Police are still authorised to pushback across the border fence irregularly staying migrants (including those who wish to seek asylum in Hungary) from any part of the country, without any legal procedure or opportunity to challenge this measure.


  • Determining authority: On 1 July 2019, the Asylum and Immigration Office ceased to exist and the National Directorate-General for Aliens Policing (NDGAP) was established taking over the responsibility for asylum and aliens policing matters.[2] The Directorate continues to be under the supervision of the Ministry of Interior and having its own budget, but operating as a law enforcement body under the Police Act.[3] The IAO’s transformation into a branch organisation of the Police meant that asylum officers needed to receive training and pass physical and psychological exams in order to be appointed as police officers. All these factors led to increased delays in decision-making and standstills in several cases.


  • Recognition rate: 2019 is characterized by a very low recognition rate (rejection rate is 91.5%) and extremely lengthy procedures, during which the asylum seekers have to stay in the transit zone, which is de facto detention (see the data on average stay under Duration of detention). Most of the asylum applications were rejected at the first instance, then quashed at the appeal stage and returned to the first instance for new examination.


  • Pushbacks: In 2019, 11,101 migrants were pushed back from the territory of Hungary to the external side of the border fence, while 2,585 persons were blocked from entering at the border fence. A total of 961 persons were apprehended in Hungary.


Reception conditions


  • Low occupancy of reception facilities: The reception facilities are not efficiently used. This is shown by the visible discrepancy between the numbers of occupancy and the maximum capacity of reception facilities, as the majority of the asylum seekers are being detained in transit zone.


Detention of asylum seekers


  • Transit zone: Detention still remains a frequent practice rather than an exceptional measure in Hungary. The vast majority of the people are detained in the transit zones of Röszke and Tompa. The fact that asylum seekers inside the transit zones are deprived of their freedom of movement is confirmed by the UNWGAD, CPT, UNHRC, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, European Commission and Commissioner on Human Rights of the Council of Europe. On 14 March 2017, the ECtHR in the Ilias and Ahmed v. Hungary case confirmed its established jurisprudence that confinement in the transit zones in Hungary amounted to unlawful detention and established the violation of article 5(1), of article 5(4) and of article 13 in conjunction with article 3 ECHR due to the lack of effective remedy to complain about the conditions of detention in the transit zone. However, in the Grand Chamber judgment of the ECtHR of November 2019 the ECtHR 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 ECHR. However, several reports and UN Treaty bodies, also published in 2019, keep reiterating the dire circumstances of deprivation of liberty in the transit zone and the HHC believes that the factual and legal situation since March 2017 is completely different than at the material time of Ilias and Ahmed case and therefore the findings of the Grand Chamber are not applicable.[5] Such understanding has been confirmed also by the Szeged Administrative and Labour Court (Szegedi Közigazgatási és Munkaügyi Bíróság), which on 18 December 2019 initiated two preliminary reference procedures before the CJEU,[6] which among others concern the qualification of the transit zone placement as deprivation of liberty. CJEU will give priority to these cases.


Content of international protection


  • Withdrawn integration services: Since June 2016, the Hungarian state has completely withdrawn integration services provided to beneficiaries of international protection, thus leaving recognised refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection to destitution and homelessness. Only non-governmental and church-based organisations provide the needed services aimed at integration such as housing, assistance with finding employment, learning Hungarian language or family reunification. Moreover, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe pointed out in her 2019 report that xenophobic rhetoric and attitudes also have a harmful effect on the integration of recognised refugees. [7]


[1] FRA, Migration: Key fundamental rights concerns, Quarterly bulletin 4, 2019, http://bit.ly/30NBDe9.

[2] Sections 1, 2 and 4 of the Government Decree no. 126/2019 (V.30.) on the appointment of the aliens policing body and its powers.

[3] Act XXXIV of 1994 on the Police.

[4]  Information provided by the Police.

[5]  HHC, Findings of the Grand Chamber Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the Ilias and Ahmed v. Hungary case in light of the current legal framework, 27 November 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/39hn6ur.

[6]C-924/19 PPU and C-925/19 PPU.

[7]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, http://bit.ly/30upiLp.


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