Hungarian government has a lot to lose at international courts because of the new, anti-refugee legislation

Author: horváthbence Original title:  Nemzetközi bíróságokon sokat veszíthet majd a magyar állam az új menekültellenes törvények miatt
Publication: 444.hu , Photo: MTI – Zoltán MÁTHÉ Date: 22:38 14/09/2015

Hungarian government has a lot to lose at international courts because of the new, anti-refugee legislation

As of Monday midnight it is a serious criminal offence to cross Hungary’s border illegally. The same rule applied before the political changes in 1989, and it was actually the first Orban government which changed this and amended it to a minor offence.

The aim of this recent legislative change is to deter refugees heading to Western Europe from choosing Hungary as their route. Now with the change in legal category, those crossing into Hungary through the so-called “green border”, (or the fence) can expect jail sentences and deportation. The ruling will also make it impossible for refugees to apply to remain in any other EU countries, as that application is subject to having a clean criminal record.

So the strategy is deterrence, but the tool chosen by the government to execute it is something in sharp contrast to the UN Refugee Agency’s ( UNHCR ) basic principles and also to the 1951 Geneva Convention on Refugees.

According to these, in the case of a person applying for asylum he or she can not prosecuted or sanctioned, even if he or she entered a country illegally. A fleeing person, seeking protection, is in a special situation, and must be judged differently, declares the UN organization.

The first to ratify this convention from the region was Hungary, in 1989, to address the refugee-influx from Romania. Although there is no legal relevance to acting against the basic principles of the convention, i.e. no direct sanctions can be effected against a country which rejects the recommendations of the UNHCR, in the long run the Hungarian state is likely to meet a great number of difficulties as a result.

One such issue could be that Hungary – in order to facilitate its deportation procedures – has declared Serbia, Macedonia and Greece as safe countries. However, from the UNHCR’s point of view these are not safe countries. So if a refugee is deported to any of these places, and he/she then turns to an international court, the trial almost certainly would be lost by the Hungarian Government, as in cases like this courts always follow guidance from international organisations.

To understand better why Serbia is not a safe country for refugees, an article written [444.hu] us by Nora KÖVES, an international legal expert, is worth reading.

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