Budapest (MTI) – The UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Hungarian Helsinki Committee have expressed concern over Hungary’s new border regulations that entered into force on Tuesday, saying that the law is too vague and could result in police violating the human rights of migrants.
Under the law, illegal entrants stopped within eight kilometres of the border will be escorted back over the border and offered an opportunity to apply for asylum at a transit zone. Migrants who comply with authorities, and apply for asylum, will not be expelled from the country and their appeals will be processed without delay.
The law also expands the list of refugee procedures that can be carried out at the border by police.
“We are concerned at the entry into force … of a law enabling the Hungarian police to escort irregular migrants found within eight kilometers of the border with Serbia to transit zones at the border,” the OHCHR said in a statement. The human rights office said the law “leaves too much room for interpretation” and could result in police breaching international law if they violate the rights of migrants.
The OHCHR also said the law could also “worsen the existing desperate and inhuman conditions at the border”.
The Hungarian Helsinki Committee said the law would make refugee procedures “even less transparent” than before. In a statement, it said that sending migrants back to the border without first accepting their asylum requests is in breach of both international and European Union law, which state that authorities must note every asylum application and assess whether the applicant is eligible for refugee status.
Hungary’s parliament passed the new border laws last month.
The ruling Fidesz party said in reaction to the Helsinki Committee’s concerns that everyone, even migrants, must respect Hungary’s laws. Anybody who wants to enter Hungary legally can do so in the transit zone on the border, the party said in a statement. Fidesz said this was not the first time that “the Hungarian Helsinki Committee and company, funded by [Hungarian-born American financier] George Soros” had voiced their support for immigration. The organisations had aided migrants, criticised Hungary’s border fence as well as the referendum on the European Union’s migrant quota scheme, Fidesz insisted.