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Members of the Destination Unknown Campaign are deeply concerned about the Hungarian Parliament’s approval of a law contemplating the placement of all asylum-seekers, including children, in detention.

Detention is never in a child’s best interests and has severe consequences on their physical and psychological well being. Children are children first and foremost and should be protected, not locked up.

Detaining children on the basis of their migration status is a grave violation of international law including the Convention on the Rights of the Child and contravenes the fundamental and founding values that Hungary pledged to uphold when joining the European Union.

Destination Unknown Campaign members urge Member States of the EU, the European Commission and the European Parliament to consider the possibility of triggering the procedure foreseen in Article 7 of the Treaty of the European Union, with a view to suspending Hungary’s EU membership rights until the blatant disregard of EU standards and the repeated and grave violations of the basic rights of migrants and refugees are put to an end.

Orban now the poster-boy for EU refugee policy?

Hungary had ended in 2013 the systematic detention of migrants under pressure from the European Union, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the European Court of Human Rights. The Hungarian Prime Minister Orban recognised last January that the reintroduction of such a measure, contrary to European law, would go “openly against the EU”.

Bowing down to political pressure to be ‘tough’ on irregular migration, the European Commission has just turned its back on some of refugees’ most fundamental human rights in its recent Returns’ Directive and is actively pushing member states to follow suit.

In a joint statement,90 civil society organisations condemn the scandalous recommendations. In just one disturbing example of the rush to throw refugee rights under the bus, the Commission instructs member states to lock up refugees for as long as is legally possible – targeting member states not detaining them for prolonged periods as “bad examples”. It encourages widespread detention of persons deemed to be at risk of absconding, a notion which the Commission has significantly broadened.

A billion Euros on anti-migrant policies

By 2016, nearly 30,000 migrants had applied for asylum in Hungary, but only 425 were granted it. Hungary, which has added barbed wire to the anti-migrant fence it has erected in 2015 on its Serbian border, has seen 345 migrants arrive since the beginning of 2017.

According to János Lázár, the Minister of Prime Minister’s Office, his government has allocated 38 billion forints (€123 million) for the construction of this new fence. The cost of strengthening security measures at the border, including transit areas and patrols, is approaching the billion euros.

For Hungary it seems, the more a person needs protection, shelter and asylum – the more money is spent to ensure they don’t get it.

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