Evidence mounting for Hungary’s brutal treatment of migrants
There is an increasing number of reports that Hungarian authorities are extremely brutal to migrants trying to get to Western Europe. Two representatives of the Helsinki Committee human rights advocacy visited a transit site in February and told Atlatszo.hu about experiences, where defenseless refugees were tied up with barbed wire or had dogs set on them.
Atlatszo.hu has actively covered how Hungary treats the migrant situation, which escalated in an open clash between those wanting to travel through the country and the authorities protecting the border. At that time, we even walked the road these refugees are forced to take.
After Hungary erected a fence on its southern border, the masses no longer represent a major story in mainstream media, but as we also explored, those wanting to get through the country are often brutally abused by Hungarian authorities. Recently, international civil rights groups made claims and presented photos and other evidence that show injuries on migrants that are the result of beatings or having been the victims of police dogs.
In February, members of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee civil rights group Aniko Bakonyi, Andras Lederer and Zoltan Somogyvari visited the zone between Hungary and Serbia, and told Atlatszo.hu about what they experienced.
As they explained, there are some 7,000 people wanting to get across the border, some are there for months, run out of patience and try to cross illegally. The same people state that they are apprehended by officials in blue uniforms and are often beaten, they have the injuries to show in support of their claims.
“Hungarian police bad. Police catch, beat,” is what many of their interview subjects said. The stories and the injuries included mostly beatings, but there were also directed dog attacks and one man reported that the police tied his feet together with barbed wire.
As the Helsinki delegates found, this seems to be a deliberate effort to intimidate those trying to get across, their physical abuse is systematic, it is also usual that their phones are taken and destroyed while they watch, while the money they were carrying is also taken and torn up.
Those apprehended get their pictures taken so they can be referenced if they try to cross again. There is no “standard” in the methods, the point is to intimidate the migrants while police are shouting at them to “go back,” and it is also common to get one or both shoes taken to make the walk back to Serbia even worse.
The standing Hungarian law states that anyone crossing illegally and caught within 8 kilometers of the border must be escorted out at the nearest official crossing station on the border fence if they haven’t engaged in criminal activity. However, a later revision stated that violating the border is a criminal offense in itself, so they can expect to be taken to court to face charges.
As the police argues, they are responsible not only for investigating, but preventing criminal acts – as Helsinki argues, the process in question in collective deportation, which is prohibited under international human rights treaties.