This report presents the findings of a fact-finding visit to Hungary conducted between 28 September and 1 October 2015 by ECRE. The report shows that the new border procedure which is applied as of 15 September 2015 in the newly established transit zones at the Serbian border is highly problematic as asylum applications are examined in an extremely fast procedure, with little or no access to quality legal assistance in practice. First instance decisions have been taken within a day, declaring the application inadmissible on the basis that Serbia is a “safe third country”, thus in practice denying applicants the right to rebut the safety presumption in their individual circumstances within three days as guaranteed under the Asylum Act. The exemption of vulnerable applicants from the border procedure in the transit zone avoids their presence in an environment which is certainly not suitable for their accommodation but does not exclude them from the application of the “safe third country” concept in the admissibility procedure, the outcome of which seems to be known in advance.
the retroactive application of the “safe third country” concept on all applicants having transited through Serbia, against the unchanged recommendation of UNHCR not to consider Serbia as a safe third country because of the lack of access to effective protection in that country, also has further implications for the operation of the Dublin Regulation. As the asylum applications of Dublin returnees may be declared inadmissible on that basis upon return in Hungary, this presents a real risk of indirect refoulement. Consequently, EU Member States must refrain from effecting transfers to Hungary, as recommended in this report.
Finally, this report also raises a number of problematic issues with regard to the use of asylum detention, which seems to show an increasing trend again, whereas it was less used in recent months. In particular the lack of adequate systems for identifying vulnerable applicants in asylum detention centres and the deficiencies in the judicial review of the lawfulness of detention, including the questionable practice of organising court hearings on the premises of the asylum detention centres, is reason for concern.