Hungary using prisoners to expedite border fence construction
Hungarian soldiers stand guard at the border line between Serbia and Hungary near Roszke village on September 13, 2015. (AFP/Peter Kohalmi)
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With the criticisms from Austria’s chancellor ringing in their ears, likening their treatment of migrants and refugees to Nazi holocaust deportations, the Hungarians are busily trying to finish their razor-wire fence along the Serbian border.
They are also rushing new legislation criminalising illegal immigrants through parliament, and deploying the army along the border. It is an attitude that is attracting widespread condemnation both domestically and internationally.
“Either we continue to build these borders and treat people with brutality, deploying the army and putting them in detention camps, or we have to accept that asylum seekers will continue to try to come to Europe and have to be treated in a humane manner to claim their legal right to asylum,” said Human Rights Watch’s Peter Bouckaert.
In order to speed up the fencebuilding the Hungarians have pressed prisoners into service, with the southern section now forecast to be finished by September 15.
Until then the police are being kept busy, and on Sunday arrested a group of Afghans. Budapest considers Serbia, an impoverished non-EU state, to be a safe haven, and so is preparing to deport refugees back there if necessary.
But those Afghans interviewed were clear that neither Serbia nor Hungary interested them, and did not appear interested in them, either.