Hungary slammed the European Court of Justice (ECJ)’s ruling on Thursday that found Hungary illegally held asylum seekers at the Röszke transit zone on the border with Serbia, with Hungarian officials saying that Europe’s top court is putting border defense capabilities of nation states at risk.
The ECJ, which is the European Union’s equivalent of a supreme court, has now ordered Hungarian authorities to reconsider their application of such migrant detentions.
Hungary said the ruling directly contradicts a previous ruling of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) last year.
“The decision is dismaying. The ruling intends to force Hungary to stop defending its border with a fence and allow immigrants into the country,” Minister in charge of the prime minister’s office Gergely Gulyás said at a press briefing on Thursday. “When the danger of infections keeps most European borders closed, it is especially threatening that the European Court believes that the effective defense of national borders and the consideration of asylum requests outside its territory goes against European law.”
The case was originally filed by two Iranian and two Afghani nationals stuck in the Röszke transit zone on Hungary’s southern border with Serbia. They entered the transit zone seeking asylum in Hungary, but the Hungarian authorities refused to process their case, arguing that they came from Serbia, a country deemed to be safe.
Represented by a Soros-funded NGO, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, they entered their case with the Szeged district public administration and labor court, which in turn forwarded it to the ECJ.
Gulyás said the ECJ’s ruling is a warning sign which should prompt EU member states to take matters pertinent to national security into their own hands.
“This ruling should prepare Europe either for the [EU] to allow individual member states to reacquire control over border protection or bring stricter EU rules,” Gulyás said. He added that the ECJ’s ruling was the polar opposite of a ruling last autumn of the ECHR, which concluded that the procedures Hungary established at the Röszke transit zone did not amount to detention.