Hungary's decision to detain all asylum-seekers violates international law: UNHCR

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Pakistani migrants in Kos, Greece, showing a map he received with information about the closure of Hungary border and suggesting to go through Croatia instead. Photo credit: IOM

A new law in Hungary that allows all asylum-seekers to be detained at the border will have a terrible impact on people who have already suffered immensely, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has warned.

The Hungarian Parliament passed the law on Tuesday and it is due to come into effect next week.

Dianne Penn reports.

Under the new law, asylum-seekers, including children, will be detained at the border during the entire length of the asylum procedure.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said this means people will be kept in shipping containers surrounded by high razor wire fences for extended periods of time.

Cecile Pouilly is a UNHCR spokesperson:

"This new law violates Hungary's obligations under international and EU laws, and will have a terrible physical and psychological impact on women, children and men who have already greatly suffered. We already expressed serious concern about the physical barriers Hungary has already erected, together with legislative and policy obstacles, making it nearly impossible for asylum-seekers to enter the country, apply for asylum and receive international protection."

UNHCR said refugees and asylum seekers can only be detained on a limited number of grounds, according to international and European Union law.

Children should never be detained under any conditions, the agency added, as "detention is never in a child's best interest."

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1’17″

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