EC steps up infringement procedure against Hungary for starving asylum seekers

By bne IntelliNews October 11, 2019

The European Commission stepped up an infringement procedure against Hungary for failing to provide food to people held in transit zones at the border with Serbia on October 10.

The Commission decided to send a reasoned opinion with a deadline of one month for Hungary to respond given the urgency of the situation.

Hungary received a letter of formal notice to July for allegations that people waiting to be returned to a third country in the transit zones were not given food.

The Hungarian authorities start denying food after someone’s asylum application has been rejected, human rights NGO Helsinki Committee said in a recent report.

The deliberate starvation of detained persons is an unprecedented human rights violation in the 21st century, according to the report, which counts more than a dozen cases of starvation in Hungary’s transit zones, affecting 21 individuals in the last 12 months.

Under Hungarian law, anyone applying for asylum in Hungary can only do so from a transit zone on the Serbian-Hungarian border. Migrants are detained in these zones for the entire duration of their asylum procedure. Changes to the asylum law in Hungary have made it easier to reject applicants. 

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.

Brussels concluded that Hungary is failing to fulfil its obligations under the EU Treaties, EU laws and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The case is currently pending before the court.

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 November, UN human rights officials took the unprecedented step of suspending an official visit to Hungary after they were denied access to the transit zones at the Serbian border.

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