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Brussels wants Hungary's answers over migrants crackdown

Brussels wants Hungary's answers over migrants crackdown
By Chris Harris
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Brussels has asked for answers from Budapest amid concern Hungary’s treatment of migrants breaks EU law.

The closure of Hungary’s border with Serbia and new legislation that makes it a crime to cross this frontier are among policies to have raised concern at the European Commission (EC), according to a letter published by Statewatch.

In it, Matthias Ruete, the EC’s director-general for migration and home affairs, writes to Hungary’s ambassador to the EU, asking for answers from Budapest.

Ruete also raises questions over Hungary’s alleged ‘quasi-systematic dismissal’ of asylum applications; whether there is an adequate system in place for migrants to challenge such decisions; and the lack of safeguards for children at Hungary’s border.

Brussels writes it wants Hungary’s responses so it can assess whether Budapest’s actions are compatible with EU law.

Hungary has been one of the main focus points of the EU’s migrant crisis this summer.

More than 240,000 migrants have passed through the country this year, many of them en-route to Germany or Austria.

Hungary received 33,240 asylum applications between April and June this year, compared with 1,695 over the same period in 2014, according to Eurostat.

Hungary PM Viktor Orban has reacted by building a fence along its border with Serbia and introducing tougher new legislation to deter migrants.

He said in September: “Considering that we are facing a rebellion by illegal migrants, police have done their job in a remarkable way, without using force.

“They have seized railway stations, refused to give fingerprints, failed to cooperate, and are unwilling to go to places where they would get food, water, accommodation and medical care. They have rebelled against Hungarian legal order.”

Ruete’s letter comes after Amnesty International called on the EU to hold Hungary to account for its ‘human rights failures’.

It said Budapest had spent more than 100-million euros on building a razor-wire fence to keep refugees out and that’s its ‘draconian measures were repeatedly violating international law’.

“Hungary is effectively transforming itself into a refugee protection zone, with blatant disregard for its human rights obligations and the obvious need to work with other EU and Balkan countries to find collective, humane solutions to the current crisis,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty’s Europe director.

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