Hungarian parliament approves controversial migration law

Rising number of immigrants forces Hungary to tighten its immigration rules as parliament approves the plans for build border fence

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Hungarian parliament has passed new controversial legislation which got harsh criticism from neighbour Serbia and the international community. The new legislation now allows Hungarian immigration to detain migrants in the temporary camps, speed up the asylum seekers’ process and restrict the chances of appeal.

However, the number of migrants entering Hungary has risen to 72,000 in 2015, compared to 43,000 people in 2014, the majority of  whom enter the country from Serbia.

Last week, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic visited Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Budapest to discuss ways to help slow a possible influx of illegal migration. After the meeting, the Hungarian premier underlined that he was certain that the problem of massive migration towards Europe will be a chronic problem.

In his statement, Hungarian Interior Minister Sandor Pinder said, “Hungary is confronted with biggest surge of migrants in its history, its capacities are overloaded by 130%.”

The Hungarian parliament passed the legislation in a 151-41 vote with the backing of the governing Fidesz party and the far-right Jobbik party.

Therefore, with this legislation, the majority of the asylum seekers who reach the landlocked nation of Hungary overland will most likely be rejected. Almost all of them will not even have the chance to apply because of the border fence, construction of which is expected to begin as soon as possible.

Government spokesperson Zoltan Kovacs told the media that Hungary now regards Serbia, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Greece as “safe” countries. Mr. Kovacs also stated Hungary will handle each asylum application on its own merits, although in a fast-track method in compliance with the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees.

The much criticised border fence will run about 175 kilometre border with Serbia. Hungary has received heavy criticism from the human rights groups and the UN for its new immigration process.

A statement made from the regional representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) warned that the legislation would have heavy impact on those who flee harsh conditions to seek safety in Hungary. UNHCR’s Babar Baloch said, “This is a refugee crisis, but it’s being wrongly described as a migrant crisis by the politicians here.”