Sunday

15th Sep 2019

UN rebukes Orban's 'vilification' of refugees

  • Orban: 'We'll be able to protect Hungary from economic migrants' (Photo: The Council of the European Union)

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban on Friday (8 May) said plans to distribute refugees among EU members states are "mad and unfair".

"The idea that somebody allows some refugees in their own country and then distributes them to other member states is mad and unfair," he said in an interview on state radio.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

His comments come as the European Commission is drafting a proposal to share the burden of a growing influx of refugees among EU member states.

"This is not the time for solidarity but to enforce the law," he added, saying "illegal immigration is a crime, and not a venial sin, a joyful afternoon fun."

EU leaders will discuss the plan at a summit at the end of June.

Orban said the refugee crisis has to be dealt with outside Europe. He supports destroying or seizing traffickers' ships, and preventing migrants from leaving for the EU.

Hungary has seen a surge in migrants, with more than 40,550 asylum demands registered this year, compared to just a few thousand in 2012.

The country grants 400-500 people asylum status a year. Most of the migrants move towards western Europe, particularly Austria and Germany.

Orban wants to be able to detain every person who crosses Hungary's border illegally, which is against EU rules, and review if they are really fleeing for their lives. He insists most of the asylum-seekers are in fact "economic migrants" looking for jobs and a better life.

"If the European Union would not force unrealistic rules on us, which we intend to shake off, then we will be able to protect Hungary from economic migrants," Orban said in the interview.

On Friday the UN's refugee agency, UNHCR condemned his remarks.

“We are deeply concerned by the way the government increasingly vilifies people who have fled from war zones like Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq and who desperately need safety and protection in Hungary,” Montserrat Feixas Vihe, the UNHCR’s top official for central Europe, who is based in Budapest, wrote in a press release.

The agency also raised concerns over the language of a recent government-mandated survey on migration, which, the UN says, blames refugees for perceived threats to Hungary and Europe.

Death penalty

Meanwhile, Orban once again raised the issue of the death penalty, saying it should be left to member states to decide on capital punishment.

"We want to form European public opinion toward bringing back to national competency level the question of whether to introduce the death penalty," he was quoted as saying by AFP.

"If that happened, then we could decide whether to bring it in or not. There is no reason for all EU countries to think the same on this question," he told state radio.

Orban last month called for a debate on the issue, earning himself heavy criticism from Brussels.

MEPs to discuss civil liberties in Hungary

The EP's civil liberties committee is to discuss Hungarian PM Orban's recent flirtation with reintroducing the death penalty, and a controversial Hungarian survey on immigration.

Chemnitz neo-Nazis pose questions for Germany

UN human rights commissioner urged EU leaders to condemn violence that recalled the 1930s, but the local situation in former East Germany does not apply to the whole country.

Former Malta opposition leader fears for his life

Simon Busuttil spent 10 years as an MEP before returning to Malta to lead the opposition. He now fears for his life amid probes into high-level corruption in Malta's government.

News in Brief

  1. Nearly 100 refugees evacuated from Libya to Italy
  2. Juncker to meet Johnson on Monday
  3. First Hungary 'Article 7' hearing set for Monday
  4. Vestager picks Danish EU ambassador as cabinet head
  5. Commissioner hearings will start 30 September
  6. Italy says EU countries agree to take in rescued migrants
  7. Germany to organise Libya conference on arms embargo
  8. European Parliament to support another Brexit delay

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Latest News

  1. Brexit and new commission in focus This WEEK
  2. As recession looms Europe needs more spending
  3. How should the EU handle Russia now?
  4. EU defence bravado criticised by auditors
  5. Central European leaders demand EU Balkan accession
  6. Luxembourg's cannabis legalisation is EU opportunity
  7. The Catalan National Day has been a success. Why?
  8. Why I'm voting against the von der Leyen commission

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us