Published: Wed, March 08, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Hungary passes bill to detain all asylum seekers

Hungary passes bill to detain all asylum seekers

Migrants whose applications are not immediately approved will not be allowed to move freely around Hungary but will be detained in the camps, Lajos Kosa, the parliamentary group leader of Orbán's Fidesz party, said last month.

According to the new measure, all asylum seekers entering Hungary, and those already in the country, will be detained or moved to the container camps.

Hungary's parliament has approved the automatic detention of all asylum seekers in container camps at the country's southern borders, despite a fierce backlash from human rights groups.

Migrants will be kept in converted shipping containers and will have to pay for their own detention. In the past decade, the number of Hungarians opposed to accepting any asylum seekers has more than doubled, reaching 53 percent previous year.

Anyone who passed through a "safe third country" including Serbia will be rejected, and any appeals against rejections will be fast-tracked into a three-day procedure.

Hungary previously systematically detained all asylum applicants but suspended the practice in 2013 under pressure from Brussels, the United Nations refugee agency and the European Court of Human Rights.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) also said the new law "violates Hungary's obligations under global and European Union laws, and will have a bad physical and psychological impact on women, children and men who have already greatly suffered".

A Hungarian police officer stands guard at Serbia's border with Hungary near a makeshift camp for migrants in Horgos, Serbia, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017.

Refugees wait nearby the entrance of Hungarian transit zone near Roszke village on May 31, 2016. Hungary has begun to put in place the second line of a "smart fence" along the Serbian border, complete with electroshock, surveillance and audio-visual warning systems. Hungary built a previous fence on its borders with Serbia and Croatia in September 2015.

This has since slowed dramatically, with 1,004 people applying for asylum in Hungary this year and 105 people crossing the border illegally, according to the government.

"The European Commission's decision is about Hungary realizing the investment, securing cheap electricity for households while also providing sufficient return to cover the costs of the loan", Janos Lazar, Orban's chief of staff, said in parliament.

"The pressure on the border will not end in coming years, as there are still millions of people preparing to step out on the road in hope of a better life", he said.

It's of little surprise Prime Minister Orban has enacted the policy - he counts U.S. President Donald Trump as someone he admires. The government says its position is necessary to protect national security and European culture and identity.

By AFP's Peter Murphy in Budapest, Hungary.

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