Is the dignified reception of all asylum seekers in Europe an illusion?
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The Hungarian government launches a frontal assault against charities offering support to migrants and asylum seekers
Despite the low number of asylum seekers currently in Hungary (3 390 in 2017 according to Eurostat), Viktor Orban’s government has, on the 29th of May, taken a bill and a constitution amendment through Parliament meant to prevent Hungary from becoming an “immigration country”. The law directly targets human rights organizations, specifically those protecting the rights of migrants.
In line with the “Stop Soros” plan (a political campaign accusing the Hungarian-American billionaire, George Soros, of facilitating mass immigration to Hungary by providing funds to charities), the new bill would criminalize helping asylum seekers by giving them information about their rights, donating food or providing legal advice. According to the bill, employees of organizations defending the rights of migrants or anyone believed to “facilitate illegal immigration” would risk going to prison.
Moreover, the bill would now make it illegal for people having transited through a country considered ‘safe’ to seek asylum in Hungary. As for the proposed constitutional amendment, the latter would enable the Hungarian government to ban transfers of asylum seekers from other EU countries to Hungary.
According to the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, which is directly targeted by the Hungarian government, the new bill threatens the rule of Law, contradicts European values and violates European and International Law – an opinion supported by George Soros.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has raised concern about the impact that these measures will have on asylum seekers – who already are in a vulnerable position – and reasserts that seeking asylum is a fundamental human right that should not be criminalized. Finally, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights argues that the bill stigmatizes human rights defenders and “could even amount to an incitement to hate and violence”.
This article was originally published in May in the “Veille Europe” of France terre d’asile, available in French HERE.