The report was previously updated in March 2020.
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 in 2019, the United Nations (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.
- State of crisis: The state of crisis due to mass migration has been extended once again and is currently in effect until 7 September 2021. This means that 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.
- No access to the asylum procedure: Following the closure of the transit zones, Hungary hastily introduced a new asylum system whereby asylum applications can only be lodged after a declaration of intent is approved by the asylum authority. Declarations of intent can only be lodged at the Hungarian embassy in Kyiv (Ukraine) or Belgrade (Serbia). This applies also to those who are legally staying in Hungary. Since the new asylum system was established up until the date of this update (March 2021), only 4 individuals were allowed to enter Hungary and make an asylum application.
- Extremely low number of asylum applications: The consequence of the new asylum system mentioned above is that in 2020 only 92 first-time asylum applications were registered.
- Pushbacks: In 2020, 25,603 migrants were pushed back from the territory of Hungary to the external side of the border fence and 14,131 were blocked entry at the border fence. In an infringement procedure, the Court of Justice of the European Union( CJEU) ruled in December 2020 that Hungary’s legalisation of push-backs breaches EU law. The Government refuses to implement the judgment and pushbacks continue to take place.
- No protection from refoulement in national security cases: As of 1 January 2021 a Government (Gov) decree 570/2020. (XII. 9.) is in force and its Section 5 removes the possibility to ask for interim measures in order to prevent expulsion in case of violation of epidemic rules or when expulsion is ordered based on the risk to national security or public order. This has serious consequences for people, who have been expelled prior to submitting their asylum application, as in case their asylum application is rejected in an accelerated procedure, the appeal does not have a suspensive effect and even if it is requested, it does not suspend the expulsion that was ordered prior to the asylum procedure.
- Low occupancy of reception facilities: Until the termination of the transit zone regime on 21 May 2020 the discrepancy between the numbers of occupancy and the maximum capacity of reception facilities was due to the fact that the majority of the asylum seekers had been detained in the transit zones. As of May 2020, the new Embassy procedure hinders access to asylum procedure resulting in a very low number of applicants. Consequently, the discrepancy between the numbers of occupancy and the maximum capacity of reception facilities prevails.
Detention of asylum seekers
- Transit zone: Detention remained a frequent practice rather than an exceptional measure until 21 May 2020. The vast majority of the people were detained in the transit zones of Röszke and Tompa. On 14 May 2020 CJEU issued a landmark judgement that ruled that placement in the transit zones qualifies as unlawful detention. The transit zones were subsequently closed down and about 300 people detained in them at the time were moved to open or semi-open facilities.
- Asylum detention: Although only 22 persons were placed in asylum detention in 2020, the problems mentioned in the previous AIDA reports still persist (i.e. no adequate conditions regarding persons with special needs, lack of individual assessment and justification of detention grounds, no effective judicial review, etc.).
- Access of NGOs to places of detention remains denied: In 2020, NGOs were still banned from accessing detention facilities. As a result, monitoring could not be carried out, and necessary services such as free legal counselling, social assistance, psycho-social and therapeutic treatment could not be provided.
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. The capacity of non-governmental and church-based organisations to provide the necessary integration services such as housing, assistance with employment, Hungarian language classes or family reunification is seriously limited. Civil society and church-based organisations can provide such services only to a small number of beneficiaries, leaving many without any help.
- Status withdrawal based on national security grounds on the rise: In 2020 the HHC noticed an increase in status withdrawals based on national security reasons, concerning not only beneficiaries of international protection but also third-country nationals residing otherwise lawfully in Hungary. The underlying data substantiating the national security threat is classified and the applicants do not have access to the essence of the data. The opinions of the special authorities on national security risk contain no reasoning, but the National Directorate-General for Aliens Policing (NDGAP) is obliged to withdraw the international protection status.
Deteriorating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on employment: The COVID-19 pandemic affected refugees and subsidiary protection beneficiaries to a great extent because they typically worked in hospitality and tourism, sectors which were seriously broken down by the pandemic, therefore many of them lost their jobs.
FRA, Migration: Key fundamental rights concerns, Quarterly bulletin 4, 2019, http://bit.ly/30NBDe9.
Information provided by the Police.
C-924/19 PPU and C-925/19 PPU.