Hungary faced enormous challenges after the massive arrivals of migrants and refugees during 2015 and 2016 but several measures taken to respond to the situation raise serious concerns about the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms of migrants and refugees, a report by the Council of Europe (CoE) Secretary-General’s Special Representative on migration and refugees Tomas Bocek published on Thursday said.
Bocek evaluated the situation of asylum-seekers in Serbia and Hungary in the nearly 40-page report, which is based on a fact-finding visit he paid to the two countries in June this year. He visited several reception centres in Serbia and migrant transit zones in Röszke and Tompa in southern Hungary, also meeting representatives of local authorities and civil organisations.
“The confinement of asylum-seekers in the Röszke and Tompa transit zones raises questions about de facto deprivation of their liberty”,
Bocek said in the report. He identified the confinement of children in these transit zones, including unaccompanied children between the ages of 14 and 18, as a matter which demands measures to be urgently taken. The report calls for setting up a guardianship system for children between the ages of 14 and 18.
“The primary consideration should be the best interest of the child. Every effort should be made to avoid resorting to the deprivation of liberty of migrant and refugee children on the sole ground of their migration status,” he said in the report.
“It is essential that the right to seek asylum, including effective access to asylum procedures and effective appeal mechanisms, is guaranteed to every migrant and refugee,” he added.
Bocek said the state of cleanliness and the hygienic conditions were good in the transit zones but “at the time of our visit there were several complaints by asylum-seekers about unbearable heat inside the containers.”
“Some unaccompanied children with whom we met complained that the food they received was not sufficient,” he added.
Photo: Balázs Béli