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Council of Europe chief to probe Hungary migration crackdown

(Strasbourg) — The Secretary General for the Council of Europe, Thorbjorn Jagland, said he would write to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban about new legislation in Hungary on the migration crisis.

“I am concerned about a series of recent amendments to legislation in Hungary which will, among other things, allow the government to declare a ‘state of crisis’ caused by mass immigration,” Jagland said.

He said he would request the final text of the pertinent legislation in order to analyze its compatibility with European human rights law.

“I will also ask for reassurances that if a ‘state of crisis’ is declared, Hungary will remain committed to its obligations under the European Convention of Human Rights,” he said.

Hungary, along with the other 46 member states of the Council of Europe (CoE), is party to the European Convention, and must notify the CoE Secretary General in cases where it legally derogates from rights protected by the treaty. Certain rights, however, such as protection from extrajudicial punishment, cannot be derogated.

The secretary general’s concern comes as Hungary declared a state of emergency in two counties along the border with Serbia, a point of high traffic as migrants fleeing instability in their home nations try to reach Europe.

One of the main points of entry to the open-border Schengen zone, Hungary formally closed its Serbian border on Tuesday after the completion of a 4-meter high, 175 km long fence to stop migrants from crossing on foot. Hungarian police have reported arrests of 91 irregular immigrants trying to enter in vans and other motor vehicles.

Along with Greece and Italy, Hungary has been one of the countries most under pressure in the ongoing refugee crisis that has divided Europe. This year, Hungary has registered more than 200,000 migrants, but has faced sharp criticism for its treatment of asylum seekers.

Budapest has been frequently cited for its treatment of asylum seekers and other migrants by international NGOs and representatives of other EU states.

After an unfruitful meeting of interior ministers Monday in Brussels on the redistribution of refugees across the EU, German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel commented Europe was “covered in shame.”

Germany and Austria called for an emergency summit on the migrant crisis, which will be considered Thursday by the European Council.

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