The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that confining asylum seekers to a transit zone at Hungary’s southern border is not against the law.
The case centered around two Bangladeshi nationals who applied for asylum in Hungary in September 2015. The asylum-seekers stayed in the transit zone near Röszke for three weeks while authorities evaluated their claim before expelling them to Serbia.
Zoltán Kovács, Secretary of State for International Communication and Relations, has responded to the ECHR ruling that states "migrants staying in Hungary’s transit zones does not qualify as illegal detention".
Kovács highlights that the ECHR found in favor of Hungary, refuting pro-immigration groups and human rights organization's claims that Hungary is detaining migrants in violation of international treaties.
“European Court of Human Rights decides in favor of Hungary. No deprivation of liberty found in Hungary’s transit zone,” Kovács tweeted following the announcement.
Kovács added that the ruling is a big defeat for Soros-funded organizations, especially the group that sued Hungary before the ECHR - the Hungarian Helsinki Committee.
“Big defeat for the Soros-funded, open-borders, pro-immigration forces. They will try to ignore that and focus on the other part of ECHR decision, that Hungary failed to consider whether asylum seekers, if turned away, would have proper access to asylum procedures or proper conditions in refugee camps in other countries,” he said.
“But, that supports the argument we’ve been making all along: if the asylum seekers made it to the Hungarian border, then they passed through other European - or even EU member states - to reach Hungary's border. And those countries have a responsibility to manage their own borders.”
Meanwhile, Justice Minister Judit Varga said the ruling determined that staying in Hungary’s transit zone did not count as illegal detention and conditions in the zone were consistent with the prohibition of inhumane treatment.
ECHR’s ruling said that the asylum seekers entered the transit zone of their own free will and had been held there lawfully by the Hungarian authorities. They were free to return to Serbia, she said.
Minister Varga said that the Hungarian government’s stance is that the lawsuit had been a “political attack” and “an attempt by pro-migration forces to keep Hungary under pressure and dismantle its border protection.”
The transit zone, offered a regulated, controlled way to enter the country and request asylum, she said. "Residents of the transit zone are not detained there but enter of their own free will and stay until the assessment of their asylum request is completed or until they leave for Serbia," she added.
The minister said the Hungarian authorities are doing their job. However, the facility is under constant political and legal attack. “[This] momentous decision means the political and legal attacks against Hungarian immigration policy and border protection have failed,” Minister Varga said.