The indeterminate confinement of asylum-seekers in transit zones is unlawful: the Hungarian Helsinki Committee,an organization supported by the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, wins a landmark case before Court of Justice of the European Union

"As a result of the consistent and persistent work of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, the CJEU’s judgment will put an end to the automatic and unlawful detention of asylum-seekers in Hungary. The two families concerned by the judgment have been detained unlawfully for 464 and 526 days. Their suffering and injustice must now come to an end after this court judgment. This is a significant victory for everyone who is locked up in metal containers behind barbed wires in Hungary. It’s also a victory for all Hungarian citizens because the Court’s judgment strengthens protection against arbitrary detention. This judgment will also have a significant impact in the coming discussions on the future of the European asylum system as it reinforces essential human rights and asylum safeguards,” said Márta Pardavi, co-chair of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee.

On 14 May 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union adopted a landmark judgment concerning the joint case of two asylum-seeking families, represented by the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, following five years of litigation with the support of the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture.

The two families were held for 464 and 526 days in metal container camps surrounded by barbed wire fences. The Court determined that their placement in transit zones amounted to detention, and that such detention was unlawful, and that detention in transit zones cannot last longer than four weeks.

The Court’s judgment strengthens protection against arbitrary detention of migrants, including torture victims, since an effective judicial remedy must then be made available. Hungary is bound to implement the judgement, by amending its asylum legislation found to be in breach of EU law.

The European Court of Human Rights had also found in a series of rulings that Hungary’s immigration detention practices violate article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights (right to liberty and security of person).

For more information, see:
https://www.helsinki.hu/en/hungary-unlawfully-detains-people-in-the-transit-zone/