PUBLIC AI Index: EUR 27/05/98
EXTRA 63/98 Fear of refoulement 3 September 1998
HUNGARYIraqi asylum seeker
An Iraqi asylum seeker based in Hungary is in immediate danger of being forcibly
returned to Egypt, where he could be at risk of subsequent refoulement to Iraq.
If returned to Iraq, he could be subjected to serious human rights violations.
The asylum claim of the Iraqi national (whose name cannot be disclosed for
reasons of personal security) was rejected by the Hungarian immigration
authorities on 18 August 1998, and he has filed an appeal to have his claim
reconsidered. Despite the fact, however, that he has not yet received a final
decision on his claim, he has been informed by the authorities that he is to
be returned to Egypt on Friday 4 September. The asylum seeker is currently
being held in a detention facility within the compound of Budapest Airport.
Hungary is state party to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.
Under the principle of non refoulement, enshrined in this Convention, Hungary
is obliged to ensure that no person is returned, directly or indirectly, to
a country where they would face serious human rights violations. Implicit in
this obligation is the necessity to establish a satisfactory asylum procedure
to identify those who would be at risk. Such a procedure must include provisions
for an effective appeal of an asylum claim, whereby the asylum seeker is allowed
to stay in the country for the duration of the appeal.
Amnesty International is aware of six other Iraqi asylum seekers who have in
recent weeks been forcibly returned to Egypt and to Syria, without having their
appeals reviewed by the Hungarian authorities. The asylum seekers in Egypt
were subsequently able to obtain protection in a third country through the
intervention of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
However, the situation of the asylum seekers in Syria remains precarious. The
information available to Amnesty International indicates that these asylum
seekers have been allowed only a summary review of their cases in Hungary.
Amnesty International is also concerned that asylum seekers in Hungary are
at risk of being detained in contravention of international human rights
standards. Conditions at the detention facility within the Budapest airport
compound are reportedly harsh. In addition, some asylum seekers are known to
have been detained in the transit zone of the Budapest Airport, with clearly
inadequate facilities, for weeks. There is no opportunity for judicial review
of these types of detention in Hungary, in violation of international standards
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/faxes/express/airmail letters in
English or your own language:
- urging the Hungarian authorities to abide by their international obligations
under the principle of non refoulement, and afford the said Iraqi asylum seeker
effective and durable protection from refoulement;
- urging the authorities to ensure that procedures are implemented whereby
those individuals at risk of serious human rights violations if returned to
their country of origin could obtain effective and durable protection;
- urging the authorities to seek assurances from the Syrian government that
the asylum seekers already forcibly returned to Syria will not be refouled