Human Rights Watch: Some migrants subjected to cruel and violent treatment at border


Wikimedia Commons/Mstyslav Chernov -- Syrian refugees strike in front of Budapest Keleti railway station. Refugee crisis. Budapest, Hungary, Central Europe, 4 September 2015.

Migrants at the border of Hungary are being forced back to Serbia, in some cases with cruel and violent treatment, an article published by Human Rights Watch alleged yesterday. The Hungarian government yesterday denied such accusations.

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Mstyslav Chernov)

“Hungary is breaking all the rules for asylum seekers transiting through Serbia, summarily dismissing claims and sending them back across the border,” said Lydia Gall, Human Rights Watch researcher for the Balkans and Eastern Europe, in the article. “People who cross into Hungary without permission, including women and children, have been viciously beaten and forced back across the border,” she continued.

The report quoted a man who Human Rights Watch said had been stopped by Hungarian authorities while attempting to enter the country in a group of 30 or 40 people, including women and children. “I haven’t even seen such beatings in the movies,” the man was quoted as saying. “Five or six soldiers took us one by one to beat us. They tied our hands with plastic handcuffs on our backs. They beat us with everything, with fists, kicks and batons. They deliberately gave us bad injuries.”  

Lajos Kósa, of governing party Fidesz, rejected the accusations late yesterday. “Hungary is almost the only country that abides by all the international regulations related to migrants, and keeps to the tasks recorded in the Schengen and Dublin treaties,” the MP was quoted as saying by Hungarian news agency MTI. The politician rejected the accusations made by international organizations, which he claimed were “lacking any real foundations”. He added that Hungary is one of the few countries that is concerned about a humanitarian approach to migrants.

Local human rights organization the Hungarian Helsinki Committee has also criticized Hungary’s treatment of refugees and border “push backs” as illegal, in a brief published last Tuesday.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) expressed significant concerns regarding the role of the Hungarian government in the reported death by drowning of a 22-year-old Syrian man on June 1. The man was lost in the current of the Tisza River at the border when a group of refugees was pushed back while attempting to cross into Hungary.

Hungarians harbor more concerns over security threats and economic repercussions from refugees than any other country surveyed in the EU, according to a Pew Research Center report published on Monday. 

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