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European Court of Justice to rule on Hungarian treatment of migrants


European Court of Justice to rule on Hungarian treatment of migrants

hungary refugees
Photo: Matt Cardy/Getty

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) will today hand down a judgement on Hungary’s treatment of migrants and freedom of movement.

Advocate General Priit Pikamae is representing four refugees who were held in a safety transit area on the Hungarian-Serbian border after their asylum applications were rejected in Hungary. In holding these refugees in isolated conditions, Budapest has been accused of unlawful detention of refugees, violating the Reception Conditions Directive. In response to Hungary’s argument that those in question should have sought asylum in Serbia, the advocate general claims that Belgrade’s refusal to readmit the refugees should have prompted Budapest to reconsider their asylum requests.

Hungary’s hardline migration approach has previously been challenged when the ECJ ruled that the country breached its EU obligations by refusing asylum seekers who initially arrived in Italy and Greece. However, a 2019 ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Ilias and Ahmed vs Hungary said that transit zones were not equivalent to detention. If this precedent is applied, the ECJ will likely rule in Hungary’s favour. If the ruling is against Budapest, the government will likely seek other questionably legal measures to prevent the formation of international migrant corridors through its territory, a reality that would carry grave humanitarian consequences.

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