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So you call detention a solution

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Migszol (www.migszol.com) started the Anti-Detention Campaign in the spring 2014. We are currently gathering information about the living conditions in detention centers and publishing the information as we receive it. You can catch the latest news from our blog and stay updated. On this page we provide general information about forms of detention used in Hungary.

There are two kinds of detention in Hungary; the so-called asylum detention and the so-called immigrants’ detention.

Asylum detention

Following fierce critique from UNHCR and the European Court of Human Rights, from January 2013 to June 2013 it was forbidden to detain asylum-seekers in Hungary. From July 2013, the state adopted exactly the opposite policy: those asylum-seekers can be detained who, according to the OIN, may leave Hungary during their asylum-process. In practice, the OIN discriminatively detains most of the asylum-seekers from certain, targeted countries such as Pakistan and Kosovo, and detains much less people from other countries, which, according to the OIN, have usually “bigger problems” than for example Pakistan.

These detention centers that are in practice jails for asylum-seekers, are run by the OIN that employs armed security guards to “protect the order inside the jails”. According to a statement from July 2013 regarding the detention by István Ördög, the director of the asylum directorate at the OIN, “the asylum-seekers who will be detained for the maximum of six months will be the rare odd-one outs”. Despite this, many of the asylum-seekers are detained for the maximum time of 6 months here. This is the case especially with those people who do not want to return “voluntarily” to their country of origin for the very reason that they have well-founded fear from punishment, torture or death. The local courts in those municipalities where detention centers are located may prolong the detention every two months, blindly accepting the OIN’s requests for the prolongation and without considering any alternatives for their detention.

The social and health services in these asylum jails are much poorer than in the immigration jails. The reason for this is that in the immigration jails the social workers and the psychologists of the Menedék Association are present, but the rush of opening these new jails did not allow NGO’s to apply for projects to be able to provide services also in the asylum jails.

Immigration detention
Those asylum-seekers and migrants are detained here who already received one final decision in their asylum-process or who are awaiting their deportation. These jails are run by the police, not the OIN. There are individual and community social care provided by the social workers of Menedék.

The immigration jails have the same problems as the asylum detention centers: lack of understanding from the asylum-seekers’ side why they are punished with detention when they did not commit any crime, lack of information about their individual cases, physical and verbal abuse by some armed security guards, verbal abuse by some social workers, poor health care, poor food, low access to legal counseling, low access to psychological care.

The most serious problems in both types of jails are the following:

Lack of understanding from the asylum-seekers’ side why they are punished with detention when they did not commit any crime

– Lack of information about their individual cases

– Lack of translation when asked to sign documents

– Lack of translators when need to speak with the doctors or the guards

– Physical and verbal abuse by armed security guards

– Verbal abuse by social workers

– Poor health care

– Poor food and nutrition

– Low access to legal counseling

– Low access to psychological care