You stated that the Hungarian government has to reintroduce the detention of migrants to guarantee security. It is quite clear for us that your statement is a populist reach for voters among the far right, because Hungary has had a detention system in place for the last three years. Consequently, there’s no need to reintroduce it. What you suggested as a new policy is not “detention of migrants” but jailing everybody who applies for asylum. That’s very problematic for many reasons, but as you seem not to be totally aware of the system as it is now, we will begin today by sharing with you some basic facts about detention and reception in Hungary.
What is detention in Hungary?
Then there is immigration detention (which you claim needs to be “reintroduced”). There are more immigration than asylum detention centers. They are, among others, located in Kiskunhalas, Nyírbátor, Györ, the Budapest airport, and Szeged. Immigration detention is meant for all other immigrants, including those who get a negative decision, and those, who come to Hungary but don’t want to apply for asylum. The maximum time for someone to be held at an immigration detention centre is one year. In case you were wondering, many people don’t want to ask for asylum in Hungary because they know there is absolutely no integration support for them, and the job market is poor. They know that if they get a refugee status in Hungary, they will not be able to legally move to another EU country, but will be stuck living in a homeless shelter in Budapest (unless they are lucky enough to get aid from one of the NGOs helping refugees).
What is the issue with Körmend?
You justify reintroducing detention so that you could solve the “problem” of the Körmend camp - meaning some dozens of people living in tents in subzero temperature in mid-winter. We have two points to say about this.
Firstly, what is the Körmend “problem”? The only reason people are freezing in Körmend is because in yet another act of luring Jobbik voters, your government chose to close the camps in Debrecen (2015) and Bicske (2016) which were at least functioning somewhat normally. You can read about life in Bicske right before it was closed in here.
While you are bringing new people to the freezing tents, Bicske is standing empty. We have seen pictures in the news of refugee camps in Greece and Lebanon under snow. Körmend is the same, with one additional issue: in Hungary, it seems to be a deliberate government policy to make people freeze. Also, it’s quite clear that there are no foundations for the “security reasons” to detain migrants. As a Fidesz minister luring votes of Jobbik-supporters, you of course know very well that the Counter Terrorist Centre’s tanks on christmas markets are fear mongering against imaginary foes. Just as the trial against Ahmed H. for “terrorism” (the term not even being defined during the trial) was a show trial. The issue of Körmend, and guaranteeing security, is illogical and false. Freezing people in tents in minus degrees hardly presents a security threat.
Our second comment is on the terminology and law. It’s not that simple to “swap” Körmend to “immigration jail”, because there’s an important difference between detention and reception centers. Detention centers are closed, guarded facilities. According to international law, signed by Hungary too, detention should never be automatic, but used only as a last resort. Detention centers are, in practice, jails. Hungarian detention jails, in particular, have terrible conditions, and even children under 18 are regularly detained.
You can read more about these conditions here and more recently, here. We also recommend the reports from the Hungarian Ombudsman here and here, European Council on Refugees and Exiles here, Amnesty International here, Human Rights Watch here, UNHCR here and here, and the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Punishment here. Here you can read about things like shoes, the internet, TV, medical aid, etc., in detention centers in Hungary. Finally, we know you are afraid of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, but we would still recommend you do an extensive reading of all the detention-related reports and notes on their website.
So, unlike detention centers, reception centers, are meant to be open facilities and their purpose is to host people when they apply for asylum. Nobody has committed a crime by applying for asylum. Hungarian law says that it is illegal to simply cross the border to Hungary, but the Geneva Convention as international law, is above Hungarian legislation. The Convention clearly outlines that it is never illegal to cross a border in order to ask for asylum. Seeking asylum is everybody’s universal right - even yours. We hope you will never have to live through that.
Finally, it’s not nice of you to treat your voters as being this stupid. Everybody can see that the closing of Bicske and transferring the people from Bicske to Körmend was a political and conscious act. Just like this talk about “reintroducing detention” is. ‘Mixing up’ terms, ‘forgetting’ to mention facts like existing detention or international law, ‘confusing’ causes for problems is nothing more but a politically useful lie.