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Ombudsman for fundamental rights claims Röszke outside his jurisdiction

László Székely, Hungary’s ombudsman for fundamental rights, has rejected a request by the Hungarian Helsinki Committee that his office investigate the clash between Hungarian law enforcement officers and asylum seekers at the Horgos-Röszke border crossing on September 16, 2015.

The Hungarian Helsinki Committee says Székely’s decision will leave many questions unanswered, including:

  • Why Hungarian counter-terror (TEK) commandos were not wearing identification of any kind.
  • Whether Hungarian authorities properly communicated with the group of asylum seekers before the outbreak of violence.
  • Why it was necessary to inflict serious physical harm on the asylum seekers and numerous members of the world press.

The ombudsman claims his office only has jurisdiction in the matter if the petitioner has exhausted all other legal remedies. But according to the Hungarian Helsinki Committee this reasoning is legally baseless.

On September 16, the TEK commandos dispersed a crowd of asylum seekers and civilians at the border crossing with Serbia using pepper spray, tear gas, water cannons and rubber batons. The violent incident left injured numerous asylum seekers, members of Hungarian security forces and the world press, and representatives of various international organizations such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

On October 13, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee requested that the ombudsman open an investigation into possible human rights abuses. Both the Interior Ministry and the police had said that everything that happened was completely legal and therefore the incident need not be investigated.

The violence was criticized by many domestic and international organizations, including the Hungarian Helsinki Committee and the UNHCR.

Benjamin Novak :