The EU’s top court on Thursday ruled against Hungary over its “transit zone” camps for migrants, dealing a fresh blow to the right-wing Budapest government and its anti-immigration policies.
The European Court of Justice ruled that migrants could not be detained in the camps without their cases being examined individually, and that they could not be held for more than four weeks.
The ruling, in a case brought by Iranian and Afghan families detained for more than a year after their asylum applications were refused, is the latest confrontation between EU authorities and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government.
The Luxembourg-based court ruled that holding people at the Roszke transit zone — a container camp built into a fence along the Serbian border — amounted in legal terms to detention.
In its judgement, the court said that migrants could not be detained without “a reasoned decision ordering that detention and without the need for and proportionality of such a measure having been examined.”
It also said that the detention of asylum seekers “may not under any circumstances exceed four weeks,” counting from the date they lodged their application for asylum.
The Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC), a human rights organization that represented the families, welcomed the ruling, saying it meant that the transit zones amounted to “unlawful detention.”
“All those kept in the transits beyond four weeks must be released. If they are still in the asylum procedure, they should either be placed in an open reception facility or, after an individualized assessment, in formal asylum detention,” Andras Lederer of the HHC said.
Hungary’s two “transit zone” camps, where people are held in shipping containers behind barbed wire, have also been criticized by rights groups as inhumane.
Last year the European Commission said that conditions in the camps breached EU human rights legislation.
Under amendments passed in 2018, Hungary has been automatically rejecting asylum applications from those who have passed through a “safe transit country,” in this case Serbia.
Budapest’s position remains “unchanged,” government spokesperson Zoltan Kovacs said.
“Our regulations and legal practices are in line with EU and international law since the migrants could have left the transit zone in the direction of Serbia at any time,” Kovacs wrote in a blog post.
“These people are no longer asylum seekers, as their claims were rejected long ago; therefore, they cannot enter Hungary legally,” he said.
European Commission for Values and Transparency Vice President Vera Jourova on Thursday said that she hoped Hungary would return to the circle of “undoubtedly democratic countries.”
Her comments came after the US-based Freedom House rights watchdog said that Hungary could no longer be called a democracy, as Orban had “dropped any pretense of respecting democratic institutions.”
Henry Tong (湯偉雄) and Elaine To (杜依蘭) were preparing to spend their first wedding anniversary in separate prison cells until their acquittal for rioting during Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests. There were gasps and tears of relief in court on Friday last week as a judge declared prosecutors had failed to prove that the couple took part in clashes with police in July last year. The pair walked free in a ruling that has potential consequences for hundreds of other protesters facing similar charges. However, they have a long journey ahead as they try to rebuild their lives and business. “We have already been punished,”
WARNINGS OVER COMPLACENCY: The curves of new infections in numerous countries is climbing, while others see the the first new infections in months Spikes in COVID-19 infections in Asia have dispelled any notion that the region might be over the worst, with Australia and India yesterday reporting record daily infections, Vietnam fretting over a new surge and North Korea urging vigilance. Asian nations had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the coronavirus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency. “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Australia recorded its
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable