Refugee advocates say Hungary pointlessly detaining refugees

Human rights groups and refugee advocates warn of harmful consequences of unnecessarily detaining refugees, suggesting psychological support for victims of torture

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

Hungarian policemen detain refugees on the tracks as they wanted to run away at the railway station in the town of Bicske, Hungary, September, 3, 2015.

Human rights groups and refugee advocates Wednesday pointed out the unnecessary detention of hundreds of refugees in Hungary, adding that the treatment and recovery of traumatised survivors of torture is being hindered due to their detainment. 

"Hungary is one of the few EU member states that as a regular practice detains first-time asylum-seekers" said Gabor Gyulai, head of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee’s refugee program, adding that 40 percent of 443 refugees detained in Hungary were from Syria, Afghanistan or Iraq.

The Helsinki Committee and the Cordelia Foundation jointly presented a report offering psychiatric counseling to refugees. According to this report, legal safeguards for torture victims seeking asylum are ineffective and prolonged detention of them or those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder fuels re-traumatisation.

People, 1st prize singles, World Press Photo Awards: Matic Zorman - Waiting to Register. A child refugee is covered with a raincoat, February 18, 2016.

"People who have suffered torture face challenges due to their psychological state," said Psychiatrist Lilla Hardi, medical director of the Cordelia Foundation. "Torture is a man-made trauma, which is why our patients lose their basic trust" with other people and therapists need to building up trust with them before rehabilitation can begin, she added.

The experts recommended allowing refugees to keep in touch with family members via the Internet and to regular access to interpreters.

Visits to detention centres in Bulgaria where refugees are often automatically detained for up to 18 months also affected the formation of the report.

Last year, only 508 refugees received some kind of protection in Hungary, according to data from the immigration office.

TRTWorld and agencies