NEWSLETTER: Detention in Hungary; Torture Concerns in Bulgaria and Bosnia and Herzegovina


Immigration Detention in Hungary: Transit Zone or Twilight Zone?

Hungary’s efforts to block asylum seekers were at the centre of an important May 2020 European Union Court of Justice ruling concerning its “transit zone” detention sites, located along the border with Serbia. For years, Hungary refused to acknowledge that people were “detained” in these facilities, going so far as to refuse the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention entry during its visit to the country in 2018. Long denounced for their inhumane conditions, with the onset of the Covid-19 crisis these “zones” were completely sealed off, preventing people from applying for asylum in the country. The EU court found that Hungary was unlawfully detaining asylum seekers at these sites, prompting the country to close them while also further tightening asylum procedures. Read the full report.

Submissions to the UN Committee against Torture: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria

In two submissions to the UN Committee against Torture, the GDP draws attention to concerns surrounding detention conditions—particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic—in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Bulgaria. As well as highlighting poor material conditions and accusations of abuse, the GDP points to reports alleging that women and children are forced to share dormitories with unrelated men in Bulgaria’s Lyubimets Detention Centre; the failure of Bosnian authorities to conduct age assessments resulting in children being exposed to manipulation, exploitation, and other abuses; and failures to mitigate health risks during the pandemic. The GDP also urged the committee to seek details about how newly set up Bosnian camps operate, in particular seeking details about the extent of control over the Lipa camp by the IOM and whether people are in fact de facto detained at that site. Read the submission on Bosnia and Herzegovina; Read the submission on Bulgaria.


Pandemic Vulnerabilities: Non-Status Migrants and Asylum Seekers

On Wednesday 24 June, the GDP’s Executive Director will be participating in a webinar hosted by Ryerson University (Toronto) exploring the particular vulnerabilities migrants and asylum seekers face during the Covid-19 pandemic. Michael Flynn will join Margarita Pintin-Perez (OCASI – Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants), Petra Molnar (Faculty of Law, University of Toronto), and Dr. Anna Triandafyllidou (the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Migration and Integration at Ryerson University) to examine the populations who are are targeted to ensure the “safety of others” and the technologies that are being used to do so. Find out more about the webinar – and register – here.

Joint Guidance Note on the Impacts of the Covid-19 Pandemic on the Human Rights of Migrants

As the GDP’s Covid-19 monitoring platform has revealed, many states have failed to incorporate non-nationals into their pandemic response plans—leaving many acutely vulnerable to the virus. However, the importance of protecting migrant workers and their families—regardless of their migration status—during the pandemic has been emphasised in new joint guidance issued by the UN Committee on Migrant Workers and the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants. In particular, the guidance note calls for tests, treatment, and prevention measures to be provided in a non-discriminatory manner; to promote the regularisation of migrants in an irregular situation or undocumented migrants; and to consider the temporary suspension of deportations. Read the guidance note here.