13.01.2011

On 24.12.2010, just befo­re taking over the EU pre­si­den­cy the Hun­ga­ri­an government under pre­mier Orban announ­ced fur­ther tigh­ten­ing of their asyl­um legis­la­ti­on. Even more scan­da­lous is what is docu­men­ted by a report of the „Bor­der Moni­to­ring Pro­ject Ukrai­ne“ (BMPU): on the exter­nal bor­ders of the Eas­tern Hun­ga­ri­an and thus the EU exter­nal bor­ders refu­gees are denied access to the asyl­um sys­tem. Ins­tead, even unac­com­pa­nied minors are remo­ved back to Ukrai­ne wit­hin hours. The­re, the depor­tees are expo­sed to phy­si­cal mal­tre­at­ment and mon­ths of detenti­on; their asyl­um claims are eit­her not pro­ces­sed at all or refu­sed. This obvious vio­la­ti­on of the inter­na­tio­nal refu­gee con­ven­ti­on affec­ts refu­gees, for instan­ce, from war-torn regi­ons such as Soma­lia and Afgha­ni­stan.

„I am a refu­gee, I am a girl. Plea­se help me“. It did not help 16-years old Fati­ma (1) from Soma­lia  that she was able to approach the Hun­ga­ri­an bor­der guards in Eng­lish. Her request for pro­tec­tion was nevertheless igno­red and she was remo­ved back to Ukrai­ne. This is a clear vio­la­ti­on of the Gene­va Refu­gee con­ven­ti­on as well as the UN Con­ven­ti­on on the Rights of the Child. Dozens of refu­gees who were inter­view­ed by the BMPU over the last two years unani­mously repor­ted that they were denied access to asyl­um pro­ce­du­res in Hun­ga­ry but also in Slo­va­kia and that they were remo­ved back to Ukrai­ne wit­hin 24 hours. This pra­xis con­tra­dic­ts the ban on refou­le­ment of refu­gees and rep­res­ents a clear vio­la­ti­on of the Gene­va Refu­gee con­ven­ti­on as well as the Char­ter of Fun­da­men­tal Rights of the European Uni­on. The num­ber and spread over time of the cases of ille­gal remo­val docu­men­ted in our report implies that the­se are not indi­vi­du­al inci­den­ces but reflect regu­lar unlaw­ful prac­tice. Inde­ed, a Human Rights Watch report recent­ly came to the same con­clu­si­on (2). Several vic­tims of unlaw­ful remo­val report that after return to Ukrai­ne they were expo­sed to phy­si­cal mal­tre­at­ment whilst almost all were detai­ned in camps for up to six month. The detenti­on sys­tem of Ukrai­ne is finan­ced by the EU even though not even mini­mal human rights stan­dards, such as court hea­rings are given. Alt­hough the­re offi­ci­al­ly is an asyl­um sys­tem in Ukrai­ne this is dys­func­tio­n­al – just as in Greece; for instan­ce, from August 2009 to August 2010 no asyl­um app­li­ca­ti­ons were pro­ces­sed at all. 

„It is to be suspec­ted that in the face of the announ­ced tough law and order poli­cy of the Hun­ga­ri­an government they will con­ti­nue or even expand the pra­xis of unlaw­ful remo­vals in order to deter refu­gees“, argues Marc Speer from the BMPU. And Marei Pel­zer from Pro Asyl demands: „The­se con­ti­nuous human rights vio­la­ti­ons on the Eas­tern bor­ders of the EU must be stop­ped.“ The BMPU report on „Access to Pro­tec­tion Denied: Refou­le­ment of Refu­gees and Minors on the Eas­tern Bor­ders of the EU“ is avail­ab­le for down­load from: bordermonitoring-ukraine.eu, if requi­red a print ver­si­on could also be send. Fur­ther­mo­re, we offer to faci­li­ta­te con­tac­ts to Soma­lis who after several attempts made it to Ger­ma­ny to app­ly for asyl­um and who have agreed to be inter­view­ed about their orde­al. 

Report „Access to Pro­tec­tion Denied: Refou­le­ment of Refu­gees and Minors on the Eas­tern Bor­ders of the EU – the case of Hun­ga­ry, Slo­va­kia and Ukrai­ne“ (PDF)

(1) For rea­sons of con­fi­den­tia­li­ty name has been chan­ged 

(2) Human Rights Watch (2010): Buf­fe­ted in the Bor­der­land. The Tre­at­ment of Asyl­um See­kers and Migrants in Ukrai­ne.

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