European Court punishes Poland and Hungary over rules that violate European law

Hungary has also been reprimanded by the European Court of Justice today. In a ruling, the court ruled that the tightening of asylum law adopted in 2018 contravened European law.

The tightening followed a sharp rise in asylum applications from 2015. Parliament in Budapest passed a law to combat illegal immigration and also amended the Hungarian constitution. The package became known as the Stop Soros Act, named after Hungarian-American businessman and philanthropist George Soros, the traditional target of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his supporters.

Applications for international protection are no longer accepted if the applicant has come to Hungary through a country considered safe, i.e. a country in which he is not at risk of persecution or has adequate protection. Organizations that initiated asylum procedures for people ineligible for asylum on the basis of Hungarian law were punished. The European Commission found that the legislative changes violated EU directives and referred it to the Court of Justice, which has now ruled in its favour.

The ruling states that Hungary is in violation of both the European Procedure Directive for Granting and Withdrawal of International Protection and the Directive on the Reception of Protection Applicants. Hungary has said it wants to avoid fraud and abuse of asylum procedures, but the scheme to criminalize assistance to asylum seekers in some cases even threatens to harm migrants’ basic right to seek asylum, according to the court.

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Denton Watson

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