Strasbourg (MTI) – The Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner has expressed concern over Hungary’s response to the migrant crisis in which Nils Muiznieks said the country has fallen short on human rights.
In a statement issued on Friday after concluding a three-day visit to Hungary, the commissioner said that the country has been confronted by an unprecedented task posed by around 400,000 people arriving on its border in search of international protection.
He noted however that swift measures implemented in the recent months “have rendered access to international protection extremely difficult and unjustifiably criminalised immigrants and asylum seekers.”
The commissioner expressed concern over the lack of essential safeguards in legislation adopted by parliament in July 2015 on accelerated asylum procedures.
With the number of migrants entering Hungary being again rather low, crisis measures are no longer necessary, Muiznieks said, adding that transit zones at the borders and the accelerated asylum procedures should be replaced by procedures compliant fully with human rights.
The commissioner also criticised Hungary over the criminalisation of those who crossed its borders illegally and the related fast-track criminal procedures that he said were not up to fair trial standards.
“Migrants and asylum seekers are not criminals and should never be treated as such,” Muiznieks said.
Further, the commissioner said another issue of concern was that an increasing number of asylum-seekers and migrants returned to Hungary under the EU’s Dublin regulations had been detained over the past months.
Besides calling for a review of immigration and asylum legislation, the commissioner said that the Hungarian government and political leaders “should refrain from using xenophobic rhetoric linking migrants to social problems or security risks, thereby making the integration of the few migrants staying in the country even more problematic.”