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Systematic violations of children's rights under the new Hungarian Asylum and immigration regime


Budapest, 20th July 2016: New Hungarian legislation “allow[s] the Hungarian police to automatically push back asylum-seekers who are apprehended within 8 km (5 miles) of either the Serbian-Hungarian or the Croatian-Hungarian border to the external side of the border fence[1]”. Terre des hommes (Tdh) is extremely concerned about the current situation in Hungary and at its borders. Switzerland’s leading child relief agency has been providing emergency aid to refugees in the Balkans since October 2015 and calls on Hungary and the EU to protect child refugees against all forms of violence

Hassan[2] is 15 years old. He travelled with his older brother, together with a group of minors and young adults. He fled Afghanistan because of the threats of the Talibans, searching for a better future in Europe. They were caught by night in the woods while passing the border illegally. Hassan told Tdh: “The Hungarian policemen surrounded us and started to yell at us: ‘are you terrorists? Do you want to destroy Europe?’ They took all our belongings, our phones were shattered and they took our money. They singled out the tallest among us, as they believed to be our leader, but he was also a minor. He was beaten with sticks, more than us. I was hit as well, so now my leg is hurting.”

Tdh staffs are working with their partner organization the Novi Sad Humanitarian Center. They report that “the police bring people back to the Serbian border even when they are deep in the territory of Hungary - more than 8km from the border fence”.

The new Hungarian law, in force since 5 July 2016, is in breach of international and European law and standards. Refugees who have been pushed back into Serbia from Hungarian territory reported that police beat them up and set dogs on them. While the number of people apprehended after crossing the border dropped from several hundred persons per day to less than 20 due to the push backs policy[3], the number of people waiting to enter the transit zones has skyrocketed, reaching 1445[4] on Sunday 17th July.

In 2016, 17 000 people have been registered by the police after an irregular entry while 22 000 people applied for asylum this year.

Refoulement has become a regular and institutionalized practice in Hungary while the European Commission declared on 13th July to aim at “an efficient, fair and humane asylum policy” in Europe. According to which “The type of protection and the duration of residence permits granted to beneficiaries of international protection will be harmonized. Member States will be obliged to take into account guidance provided by the European Agency for Asylum on the situation in the country of origin of an asylum seeker as well as assessing possible internal protection alternatives whilst fully respecting the principle of non-refoulement”[5].


Terre des hommes calls on the Hungarian authorities to stop the violent push backs and ensure that children seeking international protection and their families are enabled to effectively exercise their right to international protection as enshrined in International and European standards.

Terre des hommes urges the European Commission to put all of its member states under closer scrutiny and initiate infringement procedures as provided by the Treaties should a Member State fail to comply with the obligations set out in the Treaties in general and as part of the Common European Asylum System in particular.



[1] For more information on the legal changes see the Hungarian Helsinki Committee update.

[2] The identity of the minor is kept confidential.



[5] European Commission – Press release, Completing the reform of the Common European Asylum System : towards an efficient, fair and human asylum policy.