Budapest, September 20 (MTI) – Hungary is keeping many of the most vulnerable asylum seekers stranded on its border in poor conditions while they wait to enter the country to file their claims, according to a report by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) published on Tuesday.
The report said there have been claims of border officials using “excessive force” against asylum seekers, but Hungary’s interior ministry denied this.
“It is particularly cruel to force vulnerable asylum seekers who are already inside Hungary back to the Serbian border to line up for weeks in awful conditions,” Lydia Gall, a researcher at HRW wrote in her report.
After interviewing entrants, the organisation said it “documented 12 cases of violence against migrants and asylum seekers,” including unaccompanied children and a family with young children, who crossed into Hungary irregularly after July 5. A law in force since July 5 allows police to send back asylum seekers caught on Hungary’s territory to Serbia if they were stopped within 8 kilometers of the border. Many vulnerable people are stranded at the border for weeks, the report said.
Asylum seekers said they were “beaten with batons, pummelled with fists, and kicked,” in many cases by officials in uniforms. Some asylum seekers said police were not helping injured people, in some cases women or babies who needed assistance. Another group said police used gas spray on them, even near a baby. The HRW said there were photographs documenting these incidents.
Hungary’s interior ministry denied the claims in a statement sent to MTI on Tuesday. It said that this is not the first time the “pro-immigration” organisation was launching an attack against Hungary. Hungarian police and soldiers are acting legally and professionally and are applying the principles of proportionality, the statement said. There is special attention paid to a humanitarian and respectful handling of illegal migrants, and the many unaccompanied children who arrive receive protection, health care and education, it said. The ministry at the same time expects migrants to obey the laws of the European Union and Hungary, the statement said.
Photo: Balázs Béli