Wednesday Jul 22, 2015
Anita Élő | Source: Heti Válasz
Q: We visited the Hungarian–Serbian border zone twice: at late January, during the Kosovars’ influx, and most recently, when most migrants are coming from Afghanistan or Syria. We didn’t see frontier guards, only policeman who rounded up the migrants. People can apparently just walk through the frontier unobstructed.
A: The frontier is guarded but not by guards standing there. We have even been asked why the migrants are caught in Hungarian territory and why not outside it. Hungarian law-enforcement agents may not take measures outside of Hungary! A considerable part of Hungary’s border is covered by heat-seeking cameras. The camera operator instructs patrolmen where to go and engage with the migrants.
Q: Since 2008 Hungary has been along the outside perimeters of the Schengen area and that’s when the frontier guard corps was disbanded. It had 9500 members. How many police officers are guarding the Hungarian borders these days?
A: There are 4365 Hungarian officers doing border policing alongside the Schengen border.
Q: Even if we suppose that the Hungarian borders are policed effectively, that’s useless because, if a migrant declares that he is a refugee, he has to be allowed to enter Hungary.
A: What do you mean by “allowed to enter”? They are already in Hungarian territory. What the frontier police can do is initiating official proceedings against him.
Q: Why can’t you turn them back?
A: That is not allowed by international deportation agreements, to which Hungary is a signatory. The official proceedings must be carried out.
Q: But the Hungarian parliament has recently amended the Asylum Act. What has changed in its wake?
A: The proceedings are the same: the trespassers are rounded up from the frontier area. The law amendment will only have an effect on the work of the Office of Immigration and Nationality. In the future asylum detention may be applied in more cases, and claims filed by migrants who reached Hungary from safe transit countries, for example, Serbia, might be turned down.
Q: Once a migrant has reached the European Union territory, he has a good chance of staying there, hasn’t he?
A: Yes, he has. Suppose the German authorities catch an asylum-seeker. When they see that he first applied for asylum in Hungary, he is told that within two or three days he will be sent back to Hungary because that is required by EU law. But in the meantime the migrant disappears. The Germans know that because they don’t apply asylum detention.
Q: Hungary has started building a fence alongside the Serbian border. Will that change Hungarian border policing?
A: No, it won’t. It will be called “illegal entry” fence or not.
Q: If a migrant enters Hungary by damaging a part of the future fence, he commits a crime. Can he be expelled on grounds of such a crime?
A: Such a crime is not serious enough to provide grounds for expulsion.
Q: A fence is useless if it isn’t guarded and if migrants can climb above or under it. Can the Hungarian border police guard a fence that is 176 km in length?
A: In Europe such fences are not closely guarded by policemen. Instead, the authorities use heat-seeking cameras and other devices to warn the guards. … All we can do is perhaps reduce the flow of migrants, change their direction or compel them to use other methods. But, left on its own, no border police can halt the stream of people who are fleeing terror, war and the Islamic State.
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