UNHCR deeply concerned by Hungary plans to detain all asylum seekers

07 March 2017

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Cécile Pouilly – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

A young boy — detained with his mother by Hungarian border police for 24 hours — clowns for visitors.  © UNHCR/Kitty McKinsey

UNHCR is deeply concerned at a new law which has been voted this morning at the Hungarian Parliament and which foresees the mandatory detention of all asylum seekers, including many children, for the entire length of the asylum procedure.

In practice, it means that every asylum-seeker, including children, will be detained in shipping containers surrounded by high razor wire fence at the border for extended periods of time.

This new law violates Hungary’s obligations under international and EU laws, and will have a terrible physical and psychological impact on women, children and men who have already greatly suffered.

We already expressed serious concern about the physical barriers Hungary has already erected, together with legislative and policy obstacles, making it nearly impossible for asylum-seekers to enter the country, apply for asylum and receive international protection.

Under International and EU laws, the detention of refugees and asylum-seekers can only be justified on a limited number of grounds, and only where it is necessary, reasonable and proportionate. This requires authorities to consider whether there are less coercive or intrusive measures to achieve these goals, based on an assessment of the individual’s particular circumstances. Alternatives to detention should always to be considered first. Failure to do so could render detention arbitrary.

Children should never be detained under any conditions as detention is never in a child’s best interest.

For more information on this topic, please contact:

In Geneva, Cécile Pouilly, pouilly@unhcr.org, +41 79 108 26 25
In Budapest, Erno Simon, simoner@unhcr.org, +36 30 657 03 23

 

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