High Commissioner for Human Rights: Hungary violating international law

GENEVA (17 September 2015) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Thursday said he was appalled at the recent actions and attitudes displayed by the Hungarian Government and authorities in relation to refugees and migrants, and also urged European institutions to resolve their impasse and take firm action to respond to the crisis in Hungary and elsewhere.

“The images of women and young children being assaulted with tear gas and water cannons at Hungary’s border with Serbia were truly shocking,” Zeid said. “I am appalled at the callous, and in some cases illegal, actions of the Hungarian authorities in recent days, which include denying entry to, arresting, summarily rejecting and returning refugees, using disproportionate force on migrants and refugees, as well as reportedly assaulting journalists and seizing video documentation. Some of these actions amount to clear violations of international law.* ”    

The Hungarian Government has just finished building a fence on its border to Serbia and closed the border crossings, while a new law criminalizing irregular entry into Hungary came into effect on Tuesday. Hungary has reportedly already begun returning refugees to Serbia, following very summary proceedings. The Government is also talking of building more fences along its other borders with Romania and Croatia.

On Monday, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán defended the measures by saying that they concerned “defending European lifestyles,” contrasting this with Islam. High Commissioner Zeid deplored the xenophobic and anti-Muslim views that appear to lie at the heart of current Hungarian Government policy, and which were reflected in a blatantly xenophobic Government poster campaign earlier in the year.

“The package of measures brought in overnight between Monday to Tuesday is incompatible with the human rights commitments binding on Hungary,” the High Commissioner said. “This is an entirely unacceptable infringement of the human rights of refugees and migrants. Seeking asylum is not a crime, and neither is entering a country irregularly.”

“Many have made harrowing sea journeys to avoid other border fences,” Zeid added.

“They have put themselves at the mercy of smugglers because they had no other option to escape from war and misery. Other avenues for entry – including resettlement programs as well as regular migration channels – were simply not there. I am extremely concerned at the repeated failures of the European Union to agree firm and principled action to respond to the crisis in Hungary and elsewhere. Current events highlight the urgent need for bolder and more human-rights driven migration and asylum policies in Europe.”

*Relevant international treaties include the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the 1951 Refugee Convention and the Convention Against Torture.

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Guest

Google will match your donation. Great initiative from Google. You can help too! https://onetoday.google.com/page/refugeerelief?c=IE&hl=en-US

Guest

A bit OT.
I find it interesting (and even a bit strange …) that suddenly there are many new commenters here which go on at lenght about what the refugees (or potential immigrants if you prefer) did wrong while waiting for that crazy fence to open …
Should they just sit (and rot maybe …) there?
No comments on the idiocies of that fence (or those fences, more are to come) and the daily changing policies of the Hungarian government?
To me this really looks like an army of Fidesz trolls – ok, they’re more sophisticated than those White Supremacists all over the net (just look at politics.hu) but still …

What do the “newcomers” here think about the strategy (if you can call it that …) of the Hungarian government?
Just look at this:
“High Commissioner Zeid deplored the xenophobic and anti-Muslim views that appear to lie at the heart of current Hungarian Government policy, and which were reflected in a blatantly xenophobic Government poster campaign earlier in the year.”
A rather scathing comment on Orbán’s policies …

Merneptah
Guest
I am far from possessing the stone of wisdom and I find it extremely hard to know my way around in the labyrinth of hysteric and exaggerated reactions to the migrant crisis these days but, with all due respect, we should interpret Prince Zeid’s unusually strong words in its right context. Apart from being an excellent diplomat, he must know way more about the miserable situation developed in Syria than any of us making smart comments here. His home country is also badly affected by the civil war rampaging in the neighbourhood and he must also know that the chance of reaching any sort of peaceful agreement among the warring parties is painfully slim. Furthermore he must have been taken aback and personally offended by the claptrap promoted by the Hungarian government about the clash of civilizations simply because he happens to be a Muslim by religion. I am not underestimating the hidden dangers of the unprecedented scale of this influx and I also have to admit that Hungary has had a legal obligation to align with the regulations of the Schengen Agreement. But I still think that the core of the problem is that it was decided well in… Read more »
Gardonista
Guest

There is widespread worldwide attention on Hungary right now. Orban has become a hero of anti-immigrant xenophobes everywhere. Fidesz trolls have found their kindred spirits around the world.

bimbi
Guest

A rather scathing comment on Orbán’s policies …

Yes indeed but as we have repeatedly read in comments on this blog, Mr. Orban simply does not care so long as the EU continues to pay the annual billions of Euro (they owe it to us say the Fideszniks) for personal enrichment of party members and he continues to pander to the baser instincts of the electorate with his nationalism and tales of brave Hungary again defending the Christian West from the Islamic hordes.

The videos of government-directed actions of the police (TEK, Mr. Orban’s private army) against exhausted men, women and children at the Roszke border crossing are horrific. These ‘police’ look like black body-armoured thugs and they were ready to show it. The whole action had the appearance of a training exercise in preparation for what awaits the Hungarian population when ‘threats’ are perceived by this paranoid government. The draconian laws recently enacted to counter the “migrant threat” will still be in force and can be called into service for suppression as required. Mr. Orban is doing terrible damage to Hungary.

Member

Let’s hope no one start shrieking that “Hungary violating international law” means all Hungarians, and how dare….

On the other hand as Hungary is full member of the EU, the EU that in certain ways created a way to Orban and his buddies to terrorize the whole world, I think the title should be:
EUROPEAN UNION VIOLATING INTERNATIONAL LAW

Guest

Especially since EU has this stupid Schengen Agreement where border countries like Hungary MUST take responsibility for controlling the external borders on behalf of the other Schengen States in order to maintain a high level of security once border controls between Schengen countries are abolished. http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/borders-and-visas/schengen/index_en.htm How stupid isn’t it? Those Europeans…Why cannot we just walk over from one country to another one where we want.

gdfxx
Guest

An interesting paragraph from http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/borders-and-visas/border-crossing/index_en.htm:

Operational cooperation between EU States is coordinated by the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders (“FRONTEX”). The major task of the Frontex Agency is to coordinate joint operations to assist EU States in managing migratory flows at their external borders. The joint operations coordinated by the Frontex Agency at sea are governed by Regulation 656/2014, which establishes rules on interception, rescue and disembarkation to be applied in the context of such joint operations. The Agency also manages a pool of border guards called European Border Guard Teams for deployment as guest officers during Frontex joint operations and pilot projects, and during Rapid interventions in States facing urgent and exceptional pressures at their external borders.

I would think that the “urgent and exceptional pressures” exist no, so why don’t we see “European Border Guard Teams” in Hungary? Or in Greece, which to my surprise is also part of the Schengen zone (according to the map on the above site)?

Webber
Guest

Of course Greece is in Schengen. Who didn’t know that?
Greece, Macedonia, and Serbia let refugees through, and get no criticism.
When Hungary (under Orban) was letting refugees through to Austria and Germany, it also got no criticism. I personally saw refugees in Szeged and on trains.
It was only when Orban stopped refugees at Keleti, with the ensuing chaos, and simultaneously said Hungary didn’t want them to stop in Hungary and that he would “protect Europe” and built the fence that he got criticism. (what’s the logic? The Hungarian government doesn’t want refugees to stop in Hungary. Refugees don’t want to stay in Hungary. The German government was accepting refugees. So, why stop them in Hungary?).
Before, there was not a peep about this. Hungary got no criticism on this.

gdfxx
Guest

Although the report is most likely correct, I would be reluctant to accept it from a commission on human rights that has among its members Cuba, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, China, Russia and Vietnam, none of them great defenders of human rights in their own countries.

Webber
Guest

As always, you are an advocate for the regime – always finding ways to defend the indefensible, or to undermine criticism..

gdfxx
Guest

No, I am not an advocate for the regime, as a matter of fact I hate the regime,

But my hate does not make me blind to facts.

Webber
Guest

Then I suggest that before you say things like that, you look at reports about Saudi Arabia, Cuba, etc.
You’ll find damning words in them.
What you said above reads as if it were xeroxed from the regime media (Bezzeg Szaud Arábia!).
Also look at reports from Freedom House and Helsinki Committees.
You’ll find plenty in them about those countries.
Just because reports are critical of Hungary doesn’t mean there are none even more critical of other countries.

Webber
Guest

P.S. It just struck me that you might have made your comment because the author of the report is an Arab, and Saudi Arabia violates human rights. That is, his nationality – and not his personal qualifications – means he is not trustworthy on this issue.
By that standard, Aung San Suu Kyii (for example) shouldn’t speak about human rights in general, because her homeland is a great violator of human rights..
Perhaps that’s not what you implied? It is a possible reading of what you wrote -but I don’t want to assume that.

gdfxx
Guest

No, that is not what I implied. But the UN “human rights” commissioncontains representatives of the governments of the commission member countries. It’s like a vegetarian society among animals, with members like the wolf, the tiger and the lion.

tappanch
Guest

Ratio of children under 18 years of age among the asylum seekers in Hungary (Jan 1 to Sept 15)

26.1%

http://kepek.444.hu/2015/09/17/menekult-gyerekek/

gdfxx
Guest

What is the source of this number? According to factcheck.org, the UN statistics show the percentage of children 11 or younger among ALL Syrian refugees to be 38.5%.

tappanch
Guest

A. fastcheck.org did not check the latest UN figures, contrary to its claim.

http://www.factcheck.org/2015/09/stretching-facts-on-syrian-refugees/
(posted on September 15, 2015)

Sloppy work, unreliable source !
The actual number is 20.8%, and not 38.5%

B. tappanch just did.
http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/regional.php

As you can see, among the 4,086,760 Syrian refugees on September 17, 2015

the age group 0-17 is represented as 26.3%,

[0,4] = 9.1%
[5,11] = 10.7%
[12-17] = 6.5%

This is an excellent approximation of the Hungarian government report that shows
that there were 44693 children among the 171000 migrants (26.1%) who were forced to register in Hungary between January 1 and September 15.

tappanch
Guest

Oops. I made a big mistake reading the UN data. (I just read the male column).

fastcheck.org quotes the UN data correctly.

So the ratio of children among the Syrian refugees registered by UN is 51.1%, but they show up 26.1% among the registered in Hungary.

This means that many families send the adult males first to establish themselves in a new country. (This was also typical a century ago when Europeans emigrated to the US an masse). The children and wife [or wives] go later during family unification.

Guest

@ gdfxx OT but your comment just reminded me of a truly horrifying video taken in Saudi Arabia. A saudi policeman beheading a woman on the street as an official way of punishment. This is a pretty usual routine over there. This happened under the rule of King Abdullah who by the way as Christine Lagarde told “In a very discreet way, was a strong advocate of women,”. Interestingly in his country women still face arrest for driving a car. Too bad Hungary has no oil, otherwise Orban will be described as a great leader who is in his discreet way a strong advocate of refugees…

Webber
Guest

“Too bad Hungary has no oil, otherwise Orban will be described as a great leader who is in his discreet way a strong advocate of refugee?”
That “Saudi Arabia” line is one I have heard on Echo TV on other issues.
Sounds like you wish Orban could get away with abuses.
Would you also say “democracy is bullshit” in public now, and that you wish everyone would just do away with the pretense? That would be honest, after the argument you presented above.

Guest

Why do these trolls always make these absurd comparisons?
Hungary vs Saudi Arabia?
Why not Hungary vs Syria or some poor African country?
Is this in preparation for the next stage of Orbán’s illiberal democracy?

Merneptah
Guest

Calling Gellert a troll for making a bitterly ironic remark is a bit harsh, don’t you think?

Tyrker
Guest

In other developments, Slovenia uses tear gas to disperse a group of migrants wishing to enter the country:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/croatia/11876427/Refugee-crisis-Slovenian-police-tear-gas-migrants.html

wpDiscuz