At a recent European Union (EU) summit meeting, Hungary was opposed to accepting the EU’s proposals on migration to handle the influx of migrants.
Hungary’s hostility towards the EU proposals regarding migrants is not new, tracing back more than a year. Through legislative changes, the Hungarian government made it nearly impossible for migrants to achieve refugee status, weakened the asylum protections for refugees, and allowed the criminalization of immigrants and asylum seekers.
Hungary’s government defends its actions, claiming that these policies stem from a duty to protect the safety of its people. Although European States have the right to set their own policies for migration, those policies cannot disregard the European Convention on Human Rights and the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, even in times of crisis. Hungary’s recent policies have already led to violations of human rights, which challenges the contractual obligations Hungary established through the Conventions.
Under the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, Hungary pledged to uphold the condition and rights of refugees, including: exemption from reciprocity, public relief, and the prohibition of expulsion. Hungary’s recent policies violate contractual obligations under the convention; in particular, the State’s policy weakens the protections for granting asylum, in violation of Article 34 of the Convention. Article 34 states: “The Contracting States shall as far as possible facilitate the assimilation and naturalization of refugees. They shall in particular make every effort to expedite naturalization proceedings and to reduce as far as possible the charges and costs of such proceedings.” Hungary’s asylum limitations for refugees violates this clause.
Upon signing the Conventions, Hungary vowed to implement and uphold these conditions through laws and regulations to enforce the rights of refugees. So far, the European Convention has begun “infringement procedures” against Hungary for breaching EU laws regarding asylum. If Hungary continues with its policies that violate the basic rights of refugees, the country may face more legal sanctions and criticisms.
Hungary and the EU must engage in productive dialogue to emphasize a commitment for upholding refugees’ human rights to prevent further violations.