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Parliament votes to strengthen border, tighten asylum rules – UPDATE

Parliament votes to strengthen border, tighten asylum rules – UPDATE

Budapest, March 7 (MTI) – Parliament on Tuesday approved measures tightening existing asylum regulations.

With 138 votes in favour from the ruling coalition and opposition Jobbik, 6 against from opposition LMP and independent lawmakers and 22 abstentions, mainly from Socialists, parliament approved a package of amendments submitted by interior minister Sándor Pintér which tighten existing asylum regulations and procedural rules concerning the state of emergency due to mass migration.

The new legislation also makes it easier to declare such a state of emergency and “ensures no one can enter Hungary and the European Union without permission”, Pintér said.

Among the measures, police will send back illegal migrants to the other side of the fence along Hungary’s border. This applies to migrants picked up by police at any location in Hungary.

The law also requires asylum seekers to be held in transit zones set up at the border. They will only be allowed to leave these zones in the direction of Serbia or Croatia.

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Fidesz deputy group leader Gergely Gulyás noted before the vote that the government measures prohibited asylum seekers from leaving the transit zones set up on the border until their cases are ruled on.

Rights groups said on Monday that the measures would prevent refugees from getting international protection and would apply blanket rules without heed to the situation of children, families and the elderly.

The law exempts lone minors below the age of 14, who will be under the care of the country’s child-protection services.

Among the measures, the authorities have the right to break off the asylum procedure should the asylum seeker refuse to have their fingerprints or photographs taken.

The law will come into force 8 days after its announcement.

UPDATE

The Hungarian legislation tramples on European Union laws and an international law barring authorities from mass detention of asylum seekers, Cecile Pouilly, speaker of the United Nations’ Refugee Agency (UNHCR) told a press conference on Tuesday. The measures put already severely traumatized people at risk of further physical and psychological harm, she added.

The opposition Együtt party voiced protest against the new legislation, and said that the new rules had been encoded with “Draconian rigour”. Keeping asylum seekers in detention while their applications are being processed is unacceptable, they said. MP Zsuzsanna Szelényi, speaking on behalf of Együtt, called on the government to launch an investigation into alleged police violence against illegal entrants in southern Hungary. Együtt also demands that entrants should be granted “decent accommodation”, she added. Amnesty International said the new Hungarian law violated international regulations. In a statement, the organisation protested against “confining perhaps the most vulnerable people into containers behind barbed wire for as long as months”. The new rules are among “examples of an aggressive tendency” of Hungary ignoring the rights of asylum seekers and migrants, AI said in its statement. AI has also called on the European Union to “show Hungary” that inhumane and illegitimate measures “will have consequences”.

Amnesty International said the new Hungarian law violated international regulations. In a statement, the organisation protested against “confining perhaps the most vulnerable people into containers behind barbed wire for as long as months”. The new rules are among “examples of an aggressive tendency” of Hungary ignoring the rights of asylum seekers and migrants, AI said in its statement. AI has also called on the European Union to “show Hungary” that inhumane and illegitimate measures “will have consequences”.

Photo: MTI

Source: MTI

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