European Court of Human Rights on Hungary’s refugee policy

The European Court of Human Rights handed down a decision yesterday that may affect part of Viktor Orbán’s solution to the refugee crisis. He might not be able to continue incarcerating asylum seekers in so-called transit zones.

The case involved two refugees from Bangladesh, Ilias Ilias (24) and Ali Ahmed (27), who arrived at the Serbian-Hungarian border on September 15, 2015 and were subsequently detained in the transit zone for 23 days. The transit zone toward Hungary was fenced in and guarded. After two sets of asylum proceedings, they were expelled from Hungary on the strength of a government decree that lists Serbia as a safe country. Yesterday the Court declared that the Hungarian authorities handling the case had violated the rights to liberty and security as well as the two men’s right to an effective remedy. The court also found that “the Hungarian authorities failed to carry out an individual assessment of each applicant’s case; disregarded the country reports and other evidence submitted by the applicants; and imposed an unfair and excessive burden on them to prove that they were at real risk of a chain-refoulement situation.” The decision was unanimous. “As just satisfaction, the European Court held that Hungary was to pay each applicant 10,000 euros in respect of non-pecuniary damage and 8,705 euros for costs and expenses.”

Already in 1996 the European Court of Human Rights had handed down a ruling, not involving Hungary, that it was illegal to keep asylum seekers in “detention camps.” A couple of years ago the Hungarian government agreed to abide by that ruling, presumably in the hope that most of the refugees, once free to move about, would leave Hungary for greener pastures. That is exactly what happened. But once the Hungarian government realized that it was unable to handle the flow of refugees, Orbán decided to build a fence to prevent refugees from entering the country. The few who were allowed through the fence were subsequently kept in so-called transit zones while their applications were reviewed. The government’s legal experts believed that these transit zones were different from the detention centers the Court found illegal because these “container” zones were open toward Serbia. The Hungarian government maintained that these zones have extra-territorial status, i.e., they are not situated within the borders of Hungary. Viktor Orbán likened them to airports. The judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, however, stated that the Hungarian transit zones are under the jurisdiction of the Hungarian state and are not “extra-territorial institutions.” In brief, there is no difference between detention centers in the middle of the country and transit zones at the border.

Hungarian civil rights activists are encouraged by the Court’s decision. They find this judgment especially timely because the latest amendments to the Law of Asylum, just passed by parliament and countersigned by President János Áder, envisage these container transit zones as the sole means of handling all asylum applicants.

What is the Hungarian government’s reaction to the verdict? There’s no official word yet from the government itself, but Fidesz announced that it was an absurdity. “For Hungary to pay when it observes and complies with EU rules and protects not only the country but also the borders of Europe” is incomprehensible. They stand by their belief that the migrant crisis can be handled only with a forceful defense of the borders, and they will withstand all the pressure coming from Brussels and Strasbourg. To ensure that Hungarians’ hatred of the refugees doesn’t wane, they will have a new “national consultation” so “the people will be able to tell their opinion of the immigration policies of Hungary and Brussels.”

Meanwhile major international newspapers are critical of the Hungarian government’s treatment of the refugees in general, especially since there is increasing evidence that some of the policemen serving along the borders mistreat those who illegally try to enter the country. In addition, about 80 asylum seekers in a detention center in Békéscsaba began a hunger strike on Monday protesting their incarceration. On March 13 The New York Times in an editorial harshly condemned the Hungarian government’s inhumane treatment. The editorial begins with these words: “Hungary’s cruel treatment of refugees has reached a new low.” The editorial justifiably points out that while “Mr. Orbán derides the European Union’s values, Hungary has no trouble taking its support, having received 5.6 billion euros from the union in 2015.” The final verdict is that Hungary treats “desperate refugees with incredible cruelty.”

To round out this post, let me say a few words about the celebrations on Hungary’s national holiday in remembrance of the 1848-1849 revolution and war of independence. The little I saw of the crowd gathered in front of the National Museum, where Viktor Orbán spoke, was disgusting. There was a confrontation between Fidesz loyalists on one side and followers of Együtt’s Péter Juhász, with whistles, on the other. During the encounter the loyalists hurled all sorts of obscenities at the whistlers. They also claimed that the Együtt protestors were “members of the AVH,” the dreaded state security police that was dismantled after 1956. The reporter for ATV was called a Jewish stooge. All in all, just another terrible national holiday.

I haven’t yet read Viktor Orbán’s speech in full, but one sentence caught my eye. According to Orbán, the nations of Europe are in a state of insurrection. As he put it, “the winds of 1848 are in the air.” In 1848 one revolution after the other broke out in Europe against the European monarchies, beginning in Sicily, spreading to France, Germany, Italy, and the Austrian Empire. Orbán Viktor blithely compared the democratic revolutions of 1848 to the dark forces of the extreme right on the rise today. He is keeping fingers crossed for victories by Geert Wilders and Marine Le Pen, after his favorite Donald Trump won in the United States. Well, I’m happy to announce that Mark Rutte’s People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) won the election, getting 31 seats in parliament, against Wilders’s Party for Freedom (PV) with 19 seats. This is the second disappointment for Viktor Orbán. The first was the Austrian presidential election, which ended in a victory for a Green candidate, Alexander Van der Bellen, instead of Orbán’s favorite, Norbert Hofer of the far-right FPÖ. And as things stand now, it is unlikely that Marine Le Pen will be the next president of France. What a disappointment for the Hungarian leader of the far-right Fidesz.

March 15, 2017
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Member

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Orban is Trump’s Turul Twin: May both their walls soon come tumbling down.
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Guest

Stevan, thanks for this!
Totally OT:
For many years I had a subscription to MAD magazine but somehow it lapsed …
Didn’t know that it was still this politically oriented.

Guest

A SHORT HISTORY OF WALLS

Troja had a wall that withstood the siege of Agamemnon’s men but it offered no protection against a trick: The Trojan Horse.

Jericho had a wall that crumbled from trumpet music.

The Great Wall of China was built piecewise without coordination so that it had many ends that didn’t join. It offered no protection against the hordes from the steppe.

Hadrian’s wall was only an obstacle to cattle-raiders. It was abandoned.

Constantinople had a wall that withstood the siege of the Turks but the Turks paid somebody inside to open a back door.

Medieval castles had fortifications that withstood stone throwing machines and cannon but the walls were easy to undermined.

Stonewall Jackson was felled by friendly fire.

The Maginot line was supposed to be impenetrable to a German attack. It did not prevent the Germans from marching into France through Belgium.

The Siegfried line was the German answer to the Maginot line. The French had no intention of invading Germany.

The Berlin wall suddenly disappeared.

Learn from history: Walls tend to fail for unpredictable reasons.

Observer
Guest

Jean P

There is a similarly long list of walls that did the job, from Valetta to Australia today. Of course a wall is only as good as the whole policy which it is part of.

Ferenc
Guest

All policies which need a wall are a dead end streets!

Guest

The Australian Rabbit Proof Fence also was a failure. In the long run population pressure can’t be stemmed by wall or fence.

http://slwa.wa.gov.au/wepon/land/html/rabbits.html

Observer
Guest

FYI
The dingo one works. So does do immigration one, just on water.

Observer
Guest

Jean P

I wish it was true (e.g the good guys always win). I am very much realist, closer to politics and not to philosophy. I understand John Rowls, but the Dictator’s Handbook is the reality.

Unfortunately fences and final solutions had been applied successfully in the past as countless bloody and tragic events prove: e.g. Old Testament, Carthago, L.C.Sula in Rome, Mongols, Bezeirs/St Bartholomew Nights, Ruanda, DDR, N.Korea, etc. etc.

wrfree
Guest

Re:the ‘Walls’

I would imagine the concept of ‘walls’ primarily suggests a ‘keeping out’ of a potential invader. On the other hand, it would appear that the modern day Magyar Hadrian using his ‘defense works’ has endeavored to turn his nation’s vision completely inward.

Like Hadrian’s wall we can see where the Orbanic defensive view reflects not only that same fearful outward impetus but also that Hadrianic restriction of clinging to a ‘Romanitas , a process which worked to limit native or foreign cultural effects on Roman Britannic culture. Modern Hungary today seems to be copying a bit of Hadrianic policy. Where it was Roma for Romans in Britain, it is now Magyar for Magyars in Europe. The script still needs to be written on the progress of this type of national defensive strategy.

Rich
Guest

Not applicable. These are walls for war, not population transfers. The mass immigration consists of engineered population transfers justified by the propaganda of “multiculturalism.”

https://www.academia.edu/7658814/Niche_Theory_Population_Transfer_and_the_Origin_of_the_Anti-Semitic_Cycle

Observer
Guest

Rich
Please lift your game or desist.
I’m almost sure this is beyond you, but we are trying to be understanding here, to give you a chance.

Istvan
Guest
Over all Jean P’s history of Walls as it relates to the German Siegfried Line does not explain that it fully served the deadly purpose for which it was designed and planned in 1936 and built between 1938 and 1940. One of my classes at the US Army War College, was titled the Defense Strategy Course. We studied the Siegfried and its purpose of increasing the causality rate for any invading force of Nazi Germany. From September 1944 to March 1945, the Siegfried Line was subject to a large scale Allied offensive, mainly American with over 100,000 soldiers. The overall cost of this Campaign in American personnel was close to 140,000. The best history of the cost in terms of the dead and wounded to the US Army in WWII of the Siegfried line can be read and downloaded for free at http://www.history.army.mil/books/wwii/Siegfried/Siegfried%20Line/siegfried-fm.htm It is highly detailed, but it shows is that the German military was demolished by September 1944 and had lost 114,215 officers and 3,630,274 men, not including wounded who had returned to duty. It was really only the defensive line that slowed the Allied advance, increased US Army deaths and prolonged the death agony of Nazis Germany… Read more »
wrfree
Guest

Great image Stevan! If anyone gets an opportunity to hear a Donny speech on tv I would suggest do this. Don’t look at the screen. Just listen. The other day I did this inadvertantly and was immediately taken with a vision where sound gave me a feeling of geography. Where? Nuremburg ’38. Between the stridency of Donny in his stentorian tones and the sweeping roars of the crowds one can see the marriage of a populist and his true believers. And he played them as a conductor an orchestra. The timings were impeccable!

Guest

Btw, if you google “mad magazine trump” and search for pictures you’ll find dozens of hilarious others – seems the writers/artists at MAD love him !

Guest

“Already in 1996 the European Court of Human Rights had handed down a ruling ………. that it was illegal to keep asylum seekers in “detention camps.”

So if this was a ruling 21 years ago, then why has the ECHR done nothing about the flaunting of the law in Hungary until now?
Knowing how all the branches of the EU operate at a snail’s pace (and I presume that the ECHR is part of the EU?) how will this decision affect all those refugees unfortunate enough to pass through Hungary?

It will most likely take at least two years before any concrete action is taken against Hugnary, by which time many more refugees will be beaten and degredated by both the Hungarian police as well as the even more enthusiastic blood-thirsty vigilante goups.

And who paid for the Hungarian fence in the first place? Surely not Fidesz pockets, but from EU funds. So while the ECHR and the rest of the democratic world quite rightly decries the inhumane treatment of refugees in Hungary, it is the EU itself which has funded the fences and the transit zones, if indirectly.

Guest

ECHR has nothing to do with the EU, I’m sorry …

Ferenc
Guest

Here you can find info about European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in relation to the EU and it’s European Court of Justice (ECJ): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Court_of_Justice

May be the next step should be to take this case (and it’s ECtHR verdict) to the ECJ. When that EU court will judge ALSO against Hungary and in favour of the refugees, I think that Hungary HAS TO oblige (or leave the EU….)

Ron
Guest
Ferenc
Guest

Thanks!
That’s the link I wanted to copy in my comment…….

Guest

wolfi7777: “ECHR has nothing to do with the EU …”

Of course not. It is run by SOROS. How could you miss it?

aida
Guest

The 1996 ruling, as Eva wrote, had nothing to do with Hungary. No doubt the offending state was ordered to pay compensation. Hungary accepted the ruling but has now flaunted it. The sanctions include compensation or as a last resort exclusion from the Council of Europe. Nothing to do directly with the EU, but of course the EU incorporated the ECHR and should apply sanctions against Hungary. But do not hold your breath. They have quite enough to do with the Brexit treachery.

exTor
Guest

Perhaps I haven’t been paying attention and have not yet noticed your description of Fidesz as “far-right”. Do you consider Jobbik still to be further to the right of Fidesz, or has Vona been able to remake Jobbik enough so that it now occupies a position closer to the center, Éva?

MAGYARKOZÓ

Observer
Guest

OT a bit

The transition of the Jobbik seems slower than Orban’s, but by now his actions have implemented 8 or 9 of the Jobbik old 10 points, add total corruption. While the orban’s slide into dictatorship is simple, the opposite direction move of Vona is much more difficult, both with the party and with the support base. (I wrote “far right and some Fid” in the last post, because Fid still somewhat moderates the language, if not not the underlying notions).

On the subject of parties: watch the György Gémesi/New Beginning party.

BTW in previous post your 3.50 “Observer’s apparent racism,..” seems to have ignored my earlier note, otherwise it may not have been “apparent” to you.

exTor
Guest

http://hungarianspectrum.org/2017/03/13/the-grand-alliance-viktor-orban-and-florian-farkas-partners-in-crime/#comment-129502

Not quite sure what you’re on about, Observer. You will have to elucidate.

Re the thread to which you refer, I (earlier in that thread) asked you to “take the floor to clear [the] air”, however that did not happen. I stand by my perception of racism on your part, a perception also shared by Tyrker and Jean P. Perhaps we misperceived. Please be specific.

I have provided the link to my reffed comment.

MAGYARKOZÓ

Observer
Guest

exTor

My earlier post comment:

Pls read carefully:

I turned around the “gypsy crime” notion of the far right and some Fid – they attack the Roma for the same things Orban is doing on a large scale.

Last, I note the behavior, never mind the arguments re its origins or causes.

Of course I could put it more simply, but I’m not a very simple man.

Guest

exTor: “I stand by my perception of racism on your part, a perception also shared by Tyrker and Jean P”

You misunderstood my comment. I did not share any perception of that sort. My comment was an attempt to analyse what people mean when they call other people racists.

Let me repeat it:
“If you believe that mankind has diversified into distinct races during its evolution you are OK. If you believe that these races differ significantly you are a racist.”

exTor
Guest

Jean P: My apology for misperceiving your comment, which piggybacked Tyrker’s comment, namely that the words used by Observer were clearly racist, which led me to believe that you also agreed with Tyrker’s POV.

As for your repeat comment, it needs elaboration beyond its pithiness.

http://hungarianspectrum.org/2017/03/13/the-grand-alliance-viktor-orban-and-florian-farkas-partners-in-crime/#comment-129474

And as for my initial contention that Observer’s comment [above link] was racist, a position easily taken given Observer’s language, I observed that Observer’s words hinted racism. I stand by my observation. Observer needed to better watch what words were used by him.

I accept the denial by Observer, a bonafide member of the Hungarian Spectrum community, of any ill link of Viktor Orbán to the Roma nation.

Observer characterizes himself as “not a very simple man”, hence the reason for not having “put [his observation] more simply”, however it behooves this selfdescribed complex person to be extra careful around words that can be too easily misconstrued.

MAGYARKOZÓ

Member

qexTor: “Do you consider Jobbik still to be further to the right of Fidesz”

I would like to share a thought about the comparison between Fidesz and Jobbik, but also between the polish government and the hungarian.

In my opinion Jobbik and the PIS-Poles have this far right nationalistic idoelogy as some kind of values, they believe in more or less. So this is there values though evil.

Orbán and Fidesz only use these far right nationalism as a tool to stay in power, like Orbán used once liberal values to make him a name in politics (1989).
Even if Orbán may be in some cases less far right than Jobbik I consider him more dangereous, because he is free of values, which Jobbik and the polish PIS are not.

Orbán and Fidesz are not far right!
They are machiavellian psychopathic criminals who are ready to use any trick to gain power and wealth.

Member

@Winston: “Orbán and Fidesz are not far right!
They are machiavellian psychopathic criminals who are ready to use any trick to gain power and wealth.”

That’s because I think that ‘Mafia State’ is a good name for the hungarian government, because it emphasizes more the criminal aspect than the ideological.

Guest

Winston, very well said!
I totally agree with you. And you can see it in the many laws that Fidesz proposed – which often were taken back when people got angry or someone realised a contradiction. And that includes changes in the constitution too!

It’s like O wakes up and says: We might have this new law – everybody agrees immediately, it’s run though parliament and then a week later he says: I don’t know …
Or someone tells him: But this contradicts the law that we made two weeks ago – ok, off with it!

Observer
Guest

Winston

Maffia state first of all. Point taken.

Bastiat2
Guest

When people speak of refugees from Syria or Northern Iraq, I understand.: These countries are at war, a terrible one, and they are fleeing for their life. They should be given help and asylum. But people from Bangladesh where no war is close, only poverty, are not refugees in the above sense. Can Europe burden itself with all the people who consider that their lot is inferior to that of Europeans. If that is the case, we should welcome a couple billion poor from Africa and South East Asia.
Is that reasonable?

Ferenc
Guest

First: I missed one essential word in your comment: “… welcome a couple billion poor HUMANS from…”.
Second: war is not the only valid reason that refugees should be granted asylum in another country; a refugee is any person who has well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.
Third: putting up walls and applying a deterrence policy is never a sustainable nor a human (nor a christian/biblical) solution THE global problem for ALL humans of enormous inequality in standard of living. The only way ahead for our human race is reducing that inequality, which can be achieved by more methods than that of moving all to places with above average standards of living. That’s reasonable I think.

What seems to be forgotten by many and, in this specific case, by Hungarian policy makers:

Everybody is A Human – Mindenki Egy Ember!!

Joe Simon
Guest

TALPRA MAGYAR.
Happy Március 15.

Crossing the US-Canada border by migrants is an illegal act. Persons caught are considered criminals, they can be handcuffed and fined.

Observer
Guest

Ferenc at al

Orban’s deplorable policies, illegal and sometimes criminal treatment of people and refugees affected by war, starvation, natural disasters, no doubt.
On the other hand the idea of helping “a couple billion poor HUMANS” is a well intended wish for magic or a lunacy.
Help in what form, how much, to how many, for how long?
There are no “universal” norms, just current, approximate standards set by the morals and the resources of the donor societies, ideally by way of rational debate. Even if the minority doesn’t like them and see the other side as stingy, hypocritical, racists, etc.
Neither Europe nor the US can resolve everyone crisis, but accepting millions of (economically unnecessary) refugees is damaging and dead end – e.g. in the Maghreb/ Africa, India, Pakistan, BanglaD etc. this did not improve, let alone resolve the problems, and still tens of millions suffer the same faith.
Innovative, suitable solutions are needed, e.g. UN aid changes in the past. Ceterum censeo: Rigid moralizing only impedes the process of finding them, ultimately hurting the good cause.

Melanie Zuben
Guest

@Observer,
Am I reading the Hungarian Spectrum? 🙂

Melanie Zuben
Guest

Before you post a comment, you have to give your details etc. My ” WebSite URL” is: Melanie Zuben (I’m one of the very few on this blog who has the courage to comment displaying her real self) Somebody has blocked my URL. This is soooooo pathetic! Honestly, believe me . . . I’m much safer for you if I keep commenting on this blog. At least, you can keep an eye on me without much effort. So . . . how about “restoring” my URL?

Ferenc
Guest

Observer
I don’t want to go into a discussion, everybody his own opinion.
BUT the quote “(economically unnecessary) refugees” is from the same deplorable level as all of OV’s slush.

webber
Guest

Yep. As if people humans should be reduced to dollar signs. I wonder how things would have gone after WWII if they looked at the economic value vs cost of survivors of concentration camps?

Observer
Guest

Ferenc et al
“Economically unnecessary” as opposed to the guest workers or replacement immigration categories which have the same economic criteria.

Imho there has been too much PC in the EU/US, where many lost sight of the reality (hence the current political backlash). It’s crucial to distinguish the desirable from the possible. Good wishes, hope or slogans dont resolve problems.

exTor
Guest

comment image

https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Sebastian_Gorka&direction=next&oldid=768269929%5D

BTW [offtopic], I notice that the Wikipedia article of Sebastian Gorka has again been flagged for an apparent (to the flagger) ‘lack of neutrality’.

The above link takes one to the page where that flagging first occurred.

MAGYARKOZÓ

wrfree
Guest

Re: ‘national consultations’

A pretty grim prospect to look forward to where the government indulges and stokes the abomination and detestation of the ‘other’. The consultations then will give the nation those apparently much needed Orwellian minutes of raising a hate filled national atmosphere. The shades of history just keep being pulled down in that little European neck of the woods.

Member
This morning (EET) in my news feed: György Nógrádi, the good old “security expert” (http://hungarianspectrum.org/tag/gyorgy-nogradi/) once again on M1 news (http://www.hirado.hu/2017/03/18/nogradi-keszulni-kell-mar-szervezik-az-uj-merenyleteket/#) telling Hungarians “to get prepared”: as the ISIS will soon be defeated, its fighters are going to “swarm” all over Europe. New terror strikes are already being planned, so the building of the second fence on the Serbian border is “completely logical”, and should the “migrants” start coming from the direction of Romania, “appropriate measures will be taken”. 90% of those jihadists who have “returned to Germany or Sweden” (?) are people of Iraqi, Syrian, Palestinian, or African (?!) extraction “who have just been given the citizenship in a European country and this citizenship could be taken away from them, if the EU finally could take unified action”. He also added that “the migrants are neither able nor willing to get integrated into the European states”. I’m NOT saying that jihadism or radical Islamism is not a real danger. I’m NOT saying that European countries should accept everybody who wants to come, and even less that crimes or acts of terrorism should not be investigated nor punished. BUT those people who have committed Islamistic terrorist actions lately didn’t come… Read more »
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