• Press Release

Hungary: container camp bill is flagrant violation of international law

March 7, 2017

Responding to the Hungarian Parliament’s adoption of a set of amendments allowing for the automatic detention of all asylum seekers while their applications are processed, Gauri Van Gulik, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe, said:

“Plans to automatically detain some of the world’s most vulnerable people in shipping containers behind razor wire fences, sometimes for months on end, are beyond the pale. This new border detention package is just the latest in Hungary’s aggressive crackdown on refugees and migrants.”

“These measures will even be applied to children, a flagrant violation of international and European law. It will also enable refugees to be forcibly returned to Serbia without due process. We are urging the EU to step up and show Hungary that such illegal and deeply inhumane measures have consequences. Dumping all refugees and migrants into containers isn't a refugee policy – it’s avoiding one.”


Under the new law, all current and future asylum seekers will be transferred to a “transit zone” near the border with Serbia, where they will be held in border camps made of containers for the duration of their asylum application process. This will apply to all adult asylum-seekers regardless of gender, age and vulnerability, as well as children travelling with adults and unaccompanied minors above the age of 14.

These measures are to be applied during a so-called “crisis situation due to mass immigration” which has been in place since September 2015 and will be in place at least until September 2017. The new measures lower the threshold for invoking a crisis situation.

Detention of asylum-seekers should always be a last measure and should not be applied arbitrarily and without judicial review and access to remedy. Children must never be detained solely on the grounds of their immigration status