Hungary Punishing Migrants

Hungary Punishing MigrantsHungary Punishing Migrants

The court in the southern Hungarian town of Szeged has shelved other criminal cases and is handing down fast-track verdicts punishing migrants for unlawfully crossing a razor-wire fence that lines the border with Serbia.

In the ten days since Sept. 15, when tough new legislation took effect, the Szeged court ruled in 176 cases, sentencing migrants mostly from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq to expulsion from Hungary for crossing the fence, Reuters reported.

Nobody has been acquitted and only 10 cases have been appealed. The new law is part of a clamp-down by Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s right-wing government aimed at stopping the influx of migrants into Hungary, the first European Union member state in the Schengen zone of passport-free travel.

Orban’s approach has gone down well in Hungary, a country with a small immigrant population. Hungarians say they are caught between an overly tolerant West and a negligent Greece that has failed to enforce EU rules on migrants.

Hungary’s border with Serbia is fortified not only by the newly built barrier but by heavy police and army patrols. Migrants can now find themselves in court within days of crossing the fence.