Back Hungary: anti-torture Committee observed decent conditions in transit zones but criticises treatment of irregular migrants when ‘pushed back’ to Serbia

The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) has published today the report on its most recent visit to Hungary from 20 to 26 October 2017, together with the response of the Hungarian authorities.
Hungary: anti-torture Committee observed decent conditions in transit zones but criticises treatment of irregular migrants when ‘pushed back’ to Serbia

The main objective of the visit was to examine the treatment and conditions of detention of foreigners detained under aliens legislation. To this end, the delegation visited two transit zones at Röszke and Tompa situated on the border with Serbia and several other establishments, and, on the Serbian side of the border, it interviewed persons who had recently been ‘pushed back’ to Serbia.

The CPT is pleased to note that its delegation received no allegations of ill-treatment by staff in any of the establishments visited. However, a significant number of persons interviewed by the delegation alleged that they had been physically ill-treated (for example, kicked, punched or hit with a baton) by Hungarian police officers in the context of their ‘push-backs’ to Serbia; several of them displayed recent traumatic injuries which were consistent with their allegations. The CPT once again recommends that all police officers receive a clear and firm message, emanating from the highest political level, that any form of ill-treatment of detained persons is unacceptable and will be punished accordingly.

The report highlights that in the context of ‘push-backs’, there was no procedure which would assess the risk of ill-treatment following the forcible removal, and the CPT recommends that the Hungarian authorities put an end to the practice of ‘push-backs’ to the Serbian side of the border.

The CPT expresses its misgivings about the fact that all foreign nationals seeking international protection, including families with children and unaccompanied minors (14 to 18 years of age), are compelled to stay in the transit zones at Röszke and Tompa while their asylum claims are being processed. The Committee recommends that the authorities fundamentally revise their policy regarding the holding of foreigners in transit zones. As a matter of priority, an end should be put to the accommodation of unaccompanied minors therein.

On a positive note, the Committee finds that the Hungarian authorities made efforts to provide decent material conditions in the transit zones and to maintain the premises in a good state of repair and hygiene. That said, the overall design of the transit zones is far too carceral. Such an environment cannot be considered adequate for the accommodation of asylum-seekers, even less so when families and children are among them.

“It is clear from the Hungarian authorities’ response that the main concerns expressed by the CPT in this report remain valid”, said Mr Mykola Gnatovskyy, President of the CPT. “I trust that the periodic visit which the Committee will carry out to Hungary later this year will provide an opportunity to discuss with the authorities the key issues raised in the report with a view to improving the situation of foreigners”, he added.

The report and response of the authorities have been made public at the request of the Hungarian Government. The main findings of the CPT are set out in the Executive Summary of the report.

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