Hungary Frees 1,400 Convicted People Smugglers

In Hungary

Hungary has released more than 1,400 convicted people smugglers from prisons, authorities said yesterday, a move which the European Commission is challenging, the conservative British broadsheet newspaper The Daily Telegraph reports.

Last month, the European Commission launched a legal procedure against Hungary after Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government in April decided to release jailed people smugglers and gave them three days to leave the country.

Hungary said at the time that its overcrowded jails were holding 2,600 people from 73 countries (13% of its prison population) at great cost to the taxpayer.

“We have released 1,468 detainees of foreign nationality who have been convicted of smuggling of human beings,” the National Command of Penitentiary Services told international news wire AFP.

Orbán has accused Brussels of pushing forward laws he says encourage migration.

“Hungary had to take this decision on people smugglers because Brussels does not contribute to the cost of border protection, but punishes Hungary when prisons are overcrowded,” Deputy Minister of the Interior Bence Rétvári has said.

The EU executive says that no systems have been put in place to monitor whether the people smugglers serve the rest of their sentences in their homelands.

Austria, in particular, has been angered by its neighbor’s decision and has tightened controls on its border.

Hungary has two months to explain how it intends to address Brussels’ concerns, or the Commission could draw up a case against Budapest, The Telegraph says.

In June, the EU’s top court ruled that Hungary had failed to fulfill its obligations under the bloc’s law by hindering people from seeking asylum.

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