AI: Hungary should not criminalize illegal entry

History

Amnesty International (AI) issued a statement yesterday urging the Hungarian Parliament to reconsider efforts to criminalize the act of entering Hungary illegally, saying that this interference with entry by asylum seekers would violate several international treaties on refugees to which Hungary is a signatory.

Amnesty International (AI) “is deeply concerned” with the Hungarian Parliament’s plans to amend the Asylum Law in Hungary and urges lawmakers to “use” their “powers under Article 24(2)e of the Fundamental Law to request the Constitutional Court to urgently conduct an examination of the conformity of Act CXXVII/2015 with the Fundamental Law”, AI’s open letter sent to the Hungarian Parliament yesterday reveals.According to AI, the proposed amendment “may lead to a breach of” the Fundamental Law of Hungary, which stipulates that “Hungary shall accept the generally recognized rules of international law” (Article Q 2(3)). 

Cabinet Chief János Lázár said on July 16 that the Hungarian government ordered the Ministry of Justice to make preparations to criminalize “illegal immigration” in Hungary, which currently counts as a misdemeanour.

However, the criminalization of “illegal immigration” might collide the Hungarian constitution according to Ernő Simon, spokesperson for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Hungary. Article XIV of the Fundamental Law of Hungary stipulates that “No one shall be expelled or extradited to a State where he or she would be in danger of being sentenced to death, being tortured or being subjected to other inhuman treatment or punishment.” The article also adds that “Hungary shall, upon request, grant asylum to non-Hungarian citizens being persecuted or having a well-founded fear of persecution in their native country or in the country of their usual residence for reasons of race, nationality, membership of a particular social group, religious or political belief, if they do not receive protection from their country of origin or from any other country.”

AI believes that the provisions of the Amendment of the Asylum Act “may violate Hungary’s obligation not to transfer anyone to a place where they would be at risk of serious human rights violations (obligation of non-refoulement) and violates its obligation of non-discrimination; both of these are ‘generally recognized rules of international law’”.

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