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11 November 2020 – Hungary

UNHCR, “Access to Asylum Further at Stake in Hungary,” 29 June 2020,
UNHCR, “Access to Asylum Further at Stake in Hungary,” 29 June 2020,

In October, the European Commission opened asylum-related infringement procedures against Hungary. According to ECRE, this is the fifth time such a procedure has been opened against the country since 2015. In a letter of formal notice, the commission says that new asylum procedures that were introduced in response to the coronavirus pandemic are in breach of EU law, in particular the Asylum Procedures Directive.

Following a Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruling in May 2020 that led to the closing of Hungary’s controversial transit zone detention sites, Hungary introduced a new asylum system employing emergency powers that were granted because of the pandemic. Under the new system, people wishing to seek asylum in Hungary must submit a “statement of intent” at the Hungarian embassy in Belgrade or Kyiv. Hungarian asylum authorities then have 60 days to assess the application, after which successful applicants are automatically detained in Hungary for one month.

According to a press release, “The Commission considers that this rule is an unlawful restriction to access to the asylum procedure that is contrary to the Asylum Procedures Directive, read in light of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, as it precludes persons who are on Hungary’s territory, including at the border, from applying for international protection there. Hungary has 2 months to reply to the arguments raised by the Commission. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.”

In June, UNHCR stated that the new system would expose asylum-seekers to the risk of refoulement, which would amount to a violation of the 1951 Refugee Convention and other related instruments. UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection urged the “Government of Hungary to initiate the withdrawal of the act and to review its asylum system to bring it into conformity with international refugee and human rights law as well as EU law.”