Freedom of movement


Country Report: Freedom of movement Last updated: 30/11/20


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Until March 2017, asylum seekers were allocated to a specific facility through a dispersal scheme managed by the former IAO. In March 2017 those asylum seekers who had already had an on-going procedure thus had been staying in Hungary remained in open camps with the same material conditions as ensured prior to the amendment (except those who were deemed subsequent asylum seekers, they were refused to be provided with food and other material reception conditions apart from accommodation). Since then, asylum seekers are primarily held in the transit zones and those who are exceptionally released from there are placed to open reception centres. At the end of last year, there were only five asylum seekers residing in open facilities[1] (see Types of Accommodation).

Asylum seekers who are not detained (either in asylum detention or in the transit zones) can move freely within the country, but may only leave the reception centre where they are accommodated for less than 24 hours, unless they notify the authorities in writing about their intention to leave the facility for more than that. In this case, the NDGAP upon the request issues the permission for the asylum seekers. HHC is not aware of any difficulty in this regard.

In state of crisis due to mass migration, Section 48(1) of the Asylum Act regulating accommodation inter alia at a private address is not applicable. Therefore, the request of an asylum seeker for private accommodation accommodated alone in Kiskunhalas was rejected several times by the former IAO in 2017. Nonetheless, after the applicant had been relocated to Balassagyarmat the former IAO finally approved his request to move to a private accommodation in 2018, albeit applying the provisions on alternatives to detention,[2] and not Section 48(1). In its decision, the former IAO set out the obligation of staying at an assigned (private) place which constitutes one form of alternative to asylum detention,[3] despite the fact that the applicant was not in detention but had been living in open reception centres (first in Kiskunhalas, later on in Balassagyarmat).

In the Balassagyarmat community shelter, a curfew had been introduced in 2017, which allowed asylum seekers to leave the facility for only 2 hours per day. According to NGOs this practice was terminated at the end of 2018, according to NGOs and has not been reintroduced since then.

The relocation of applicants was not a common practice in 2018 and 2019, although there were more cases recorded in last year than in the previous year. Since transit zones serve as reception centres in the first place, there have been only a few exceptional cases when asylum seekers were transferred from Röszke or Tompa to open reception facilities in both years. HHC is aware of a case of an Iraqi woman with her 5-year-old son who were relocated to Kiskunhalas (formerly functioning open reception centre see earlier AIDA country reports) in 2018 after the woman’s unsuccessful suicide attempt in the transit zone. There has been another case where an Afghan woman with her husband and children were held in Röszke transit zone even though the applicant gave an account of her serious depression disorder already at her personal hearing when they entered the transit zone in mid-August 2017. The family was represented by the lawyer of HHC who requested several times the transfer of the family to an open reception facility due to the poor mental health state of the woman but was rejected by the former IAO every time. She was provided with limited psychological assistance but without any interpreter service. After the unsuccessful suicide attempt in the beginning of December 2017, the family was finally transported to Kiskunhalas. Other cases were also noted by HHC in 2017 concerning applicants under outgoing Dublin procedures after a Western EU Member State had taken responsibility were placed to Balassagyarmat and could wait for the transfer there.

In 2018, the HHC is aware of a couple of cases where applicants were released from the transit zone in accordance with judicial decisions obliging the former IAO to do so.[4] These judgements in general refer to Article 43(2) of the Procedures Directive that prescribes for the Member States the obligation not to keep asylum seekers more than 4 weeks in the transit zones or under border procedure. The judgments expressis verbis request the asylum authority to provide accommodation to applicants that does not result in detention or inhuman and degrading treatment. There were certain cases with the same practice in 2019, as well, however the majority are from the beginning of the year (for details see Section on Judicial review of the detention order). As a result, applicants were placed mainly to the open reception facility in Balassagyarmat.[5]

There have been only a few, exceptional cases when asylum seekers – without visa or residence permit – were placed in open reception facilities. In 2018 an Afghan woman and her son were accommodated in Vámosszabadi after they had submitted their asylum application in the transit zone, but due to the severely poor health of the woman requiring constant medical assistance and surveillance, they were placed in Vámosszabadi. According to a volunteer and the Menedék Association, the woman received special treatment in the reception centre. She was provided with a flexible toilet placed in her room and a personal nurse. Despite her special health status, as the other applicant, she did not have a chance either to meet a legal representative within the building (in her room) of the reception facility.

In general, those who were released from the transit zones in the last three years, after spending a few days in the reception facility, left Hungary.

[1]           Information obtained from NDGAP.

[2]           Section 2(l) Asylum Act.

[3]           Section 2(lb) Asylum Act.

[4]           See e.g. Administrative and Labour Court of Szeged, Decision 6.K.27.060/2018/8, 1 March 2018; Metropolitan Administrative and Labour Court, 44.K.33.689/2018/11, 14 November 2018.

[5]           See e.g. Administrative and Labour Court of Szeged, judgement no. 6.K.27.016/2019/8., 25 March 2019; judgement no. 6.K.27.019/2019/14., 1 March 2019; judgement no. 6.K.27.646/2018/16., 21 January 2019; judgement no. 19.K.27.583/2019/7., 3 September 2019; Administrative and Labour Court of Debrecen, judgment no. 10.K.28.267/2018/23., 12 February 2019.; Metropolitan Administrative and Labour Court, judgment no. 3.K.30.088/2019/6., 26 February 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