EU takes action to stop #Hungary starving asylum seekers

| October 11, 2019

Hard to believe that a country like Hungary that itself experienced an exodus of over 200,000 citizens following the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 would treat those fleeing an ultra-violent conflict in such a callous and inhumane way. The EU has – through its laborious processes – found that Hungary’s approach is also contrary to European law.  

The European Commission (10 October) decided to address a reasoned opinion to Hungary concerning the non-provision of food to persons held in the Hungarian transit zones at the border with Serbia. This concerns persons whose applications for international protection have been rejected, and who are waiting to be returned to a third country.

In the Commission’s view, compelling returnees to stay in the Hungarian transit zones amounts to de facto detention under the EU’s Return Directive. The Commission finds that failure to provide food in these circumstances does not respect obligations under Article 16 of the Return Directive and Article 4 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

The Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Hungary on 26 July 2019. As the Hungarian government’s reply did not address the Commission’s concerns, and given the urgency of the situation, the Commission decided to send a reasoned opinion with a deadline of 1 month for Hungary to respond. The Commission invites the Hungarian authorities to comply with the relevant EU rules within this timeframe. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice.

The European Court of Human Rights has already granted interim measures in several instances, obliging Hungary to provide food to persons detained in the transit zones. In July 2018, the Commission referred Hungary to the Court of Justice in a case relating to the detention of asylum seekers in the Hungarian transit zones. The case is currently pending before the Court.

More information

– On the key decisions in the October 2019 infringements package, see full INF/19/5950.

– On the general infringements procedure, see MEMO/12/12.

– On the EU infringements procedure.

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