Hungary: Government must apologize publicly for refugee survey

The Hungarian government has to publicly apologize for the "misleading and false" presentation of facts about a refugee relief organization. This was the verdict of Hungary's highest court, as the organization concerned, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, announced.


The court concluded that the government of the right-wing Nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orbán had damaged the committee's reputation in an opinion poll in 2017.


At that time, Orbán government emailed a questionnaire to millions of households in the country to raise opinions on an alleged "Soros Plan" for Europe-wide refugee influxes. The survey said that the US-billionaire George Soros, who is of Hungarian descent, was promoting immigration and manipulating refugee policies. In addition, it was alleged that the Helsinki Committee works to ensure that migrants who have become criminal are punished more leniently than Hungarian citizens. The Helsinki Committee was financially supported by Soros.


Fine is low – but the public apology should work


The organization further ordered the court to order the government to make an apology through both the media and the government website. Besides, she has to pay the organization two million forint (6000 Euro) compensation.


A spokesman for the court confirmed the verdict, but did not mention any details. At the request of the AFP news agency, the government said that it accepted the decision of the Supreme Court.


Hungary has been under criticism for some time for its partly inhumane treatment of refugees. The few people seeking help who ever come to the country are victims of the "tightened" refugee policy.


Authorities starved asylum seekers last year


As a result, refugees entering from a safe third country are no longer entitled to asylum and their applications are automatically denied. The safe third countries include all Hungary's neighboring countries, including Serbia. Thus, it has become virtually impossible for refugees to obtain asylum status in Hungary, unless they arrive by plane from unsafe states directly.


In the summer of 2018 it became known that the authorities in Hungary had denied rejected asylum seekers food. The official reason given by the Hungarian Immigration and Refugee Authority is that asylum seekers no longer have any legal entitlement to food after the first-instance refusal of their application.

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