Hungary: UN slams racist government policies

Pro-immigration protesters in Hungary, April 2017. Photo: Zoltan Gergely Kelemen/EPA

Hungarian foreign minister Peter Szijjarto accused United Nations officials on September 19 of “spreading lies” with their criticism of Budapest’s anti-migration policies.

The comments came just days after new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, and UN rights experts harshly criticised Hungary’s immigration policies.

Szijjarto told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that “it was obvious” the UN officials were “biased pro-migration officials”.

He insisted Hungary would “never be a country of migrants … We will never allow one single illegal migrant to enter the territory of our country.

“Hungary will remain a country of the Hungarians, which is happy and which is proud of its more than 1000-year-long history and Christian culture and traditions.”

In her maiden speech to the council on September 10, Bachelet pointed to “shocking reports” that “food has been withheld from migrants held in transit zones on the Hungarian-Serbian border”.

She also took issue with measures adopted by the Hungarian government in June. These enable “authorities to arrest, criminally charge and immediately remove from Hungary’s border area any lawyer, adviser, volunteer or legally resident family member suspected of helping a person to make an asylum claim, obtain a residence permit, or take other perfectly legal actions”.

In a separate statement, seven independent UN special rapporteurs, including for migrants’ rights, freedom of expression and the rights of activists, also slammed Hungary’s anti-immigrant policies in recent days. The statement voiced alarm at “smear campaigns” against civil society.

It called on “European institutions to continue addressing the deteriorating human rights situation in Hungary and keep on taking decisions reflecting the core values of the European Union: democracy, the rule of law and the protection of human rights”.

[Abridged from TeleSUR English.]