The European Commission referred Hungary to the European Court of Justice on Thursday for controversial rules that criminalise activities in support of asylum claims and restrict people’s right to request asylum.
Amnesty International, which is one of several organisations working with asylum seekers in Hungary, welcomed the move.
Under the Hungarian legislation, employees and activists can be sent to prison for helping anyone who wishes to apply for asylum. Budapest argues that the laws aim to crack down on illegal migration.
The rules, passed in 2018, are known as the Stop Soros laws, as many believe they are tailored to hit the Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor George Soros, whose philanthropic organisations support refugee work.
This approach also includes laws stipulating that migrants, who reach Hungary via countries other than those where they are directly at risk and do not qualify for asylum.
“Today’s decision makes it clear that the Hungarian authorities’ intimidation campaign against those who challenge their xenophobic laws and policies will not be tolerated,” said Amnesty’s Eve Geddie.
The commission sent Hungary a letter of formal notice a year ago and followed up in January with a warning that Budapest had failed to address its concerns.
After analysing the reply, the commission said that “the majority of the concerns raised have still not been addressed.’’
The European Union’s executive separately launched legal action relating to detention conditions for unsuccessful asylum applicants being held at the border with Serbia,where people have been denied food.
The commission raised its concerns in a letter of formal notice, giving Budapest one month to respond, in light of the urgency of the situation.
Geddie, of Amnesty, welcomed the move for exposing the appalling treatment the authorities use to deter migrants and refugees from seeking safety in Hungary.
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