UNHCR: Hungary undermining right to fair asylum procedure

July 3, 2015

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The Central Europe representative for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) yesterday released a statement condemning the Hungarian government for trying to “undermine the right to fair asylum procedures”. The letter, addressed to Hungarian policy makers, encouraged the government to act in accordance with international law.

Montserrat Feixas Vihé of the UNHCR called draft amendments to Hungary’s Asylum Act, the Aliens-policing Act and the Act on National Frontiers, and the Hungarian government’s plans to build a fence along the country’s border with Serbia “legal and physical barriers” that “could have fatal consequences”.

The UNHCR representative expressed concerns regarding the rushed manner in which these legislative amendments are being pushed through the Hungarian parliament.

“We, of course, acknowledge the right of states to defend their borders and the security of their citizens, but we think this can be ensured in a way that does not jeopardize the safety of people in need of protection,” Vihé wrote. “UNHCR is ready to work with Hungarian authorities to find solutions that correspond to both the letter and spirit of international law.

“The world welcomed the refugees of Hungary in 1956. I would like to ask you to decide the fate of refugee families similarly in the spirit of global solidarity when the proposals are debated in the Hungarian Parliament. I have no doubts that you want to stand with the weak, the victims, the persecuted, not the other way around.”