EU judges are again judging Hungary. This time they criticize the asylum system: it violates EU directives. It is not the last case against the country.

The European Court of Justice has again declared elements of the restrictive asylum system in Hungary illegal. The highest EU court ruled Thursday (case C-808/18) that it is not permissible for Hungary to deport migrants who are illegally resident in the country without investigating the individual case. The country is thereby violating the obligations under the EU return directive.

“Violation of the principle of non-refoulement”

Background is a lawsuit by the European Commission against the asylum rules of the right-wing national government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban. According to the authority responsible for compliance with EU law, there is no guarantee that return decisions are issued individually and that migrants will receive information on remedies. There is a risk that “migrants will be returned without proper guarantees and contrary to the principle of non-refoulement”.

The ECJ now largely agrees with the European Commission. The Hungarian authorities have not complied with the procedures and guarantees offered.

On the contrary, the migrants are forced behind a fence by police officers on a strip of land with no infrastructure, just a few meters from the border with Serbia. Since those affected had no choice but to leave Hungarian territory, this would be tantamount to deportation. Instead, there must be a return procedure under EU law that takes into account certain guarantees.

Transit warehouses are illegal

The European Commission’s complaint was also directed against the now closed transit camps and the asylum procedures in force at the border with Serbia until recently. The Court of Justice declared the transit camp illegal in another procedure in May. As a result, Hungary closed the camps and introduced new rules. In their judgment on Thursday, the judges confirmed that the transit camps were in violation of EU law.

Meanwhile, new rules stipulate that those seeking protection can no longer apply for asylum at the border with Serbia, but must report to the Hungarian embassies in Belgrade or Kiev. There you can submit a letter of intent for submitting an asylum application. Then they might get a one-time permit to enter Hungary. In October, the European Commission started a new infringement procedure against these rules because access to the asylum procedure was not guaranteed.

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