Press briefing notes on Iran and Hungary
Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Ravina Shamdasani
Date: 3 May 2019
GENEVA (3 May 2019) – The execution of two 17-year-old boys in Iran on charges of rape and robbery, after a trial that appears to have seriously breached fundamental due process guarantees, is deplorable, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said on Friday. She, once again, urged the authorities in Iran to ensure that executions of child offenders are immediately halted.
“The prohibition of executions of child offenders is absolute under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and under the Convention on the Rights of the Child,*” Bachelet said. “Iran is party to both human rights treaties and obliged to abide by them. These two cases are particularly outrageous because it appears that both boys were reportedly subjected to ill-treatment and a flawed legal process.”
We are alarmed by reports that migrants in detention centres in Hungary have been deliberately deprived of food in contravention of international laws and standards.
According to the existing laws in Hungary, migrants and asylum seekers without the right to stay in Hungary are immediately detained in transit zones during their asylum procedure, or until they can be returned. In these transit zones, they are subjected to asylum and deportation procedures, which fail to effectively assess each individuals situation. We are concerned by the absence in these transit zones of meaningful individualised procedures, which are required to ensure deprivation of liberty is an exceptional measure and that all risks prohibiting a persons return are taken into account.
Furthermore, if the Hungarian Immigration and Asylum Office starts a procedure with a view to expel the rejected applicant from the country, migrants are no longer provided with food. Pending the enforcement of the expulsion, adults — with the sole exception of pregnant or nursing women — are deliberately deprived of food, which can lead to malnutrition and is both detrimental to their health and inherently inhumane.
According to reports, since August 2018, at least 21 migrants awaiting deportation had been deprived of food by the Hungarian authorities – some for up to five days.
We note that the Hungarian authorities had promised to end this practice following an interim measure by the European Court of Human Rights. However, we regret that, in the absence of a clear change in the legal framework, reports suggest the practice is continuing.
We note also that the Hungarian authorities do not consider some of these migrants to be in detention as they can “voluntarily” leave the transit zones towards neighbouring Serbia. However, we add our views that a migrant must not be subject to detention in inadequate conditions, arbitrary detention or other forms of coercion as this renders any return involuntary. Furthermore, we note that such “voluntary” departure could put migrants at further risk as it could breach Hungarian deportation orders, and force migrants to enter Serbia irregularly in contravention of Serbian law.
The UN Human Rights Office reminds States that they have an obligation and heightened duty of care towards migrants who are deprived of their liberty, including through the provision of food. The deliberate deprivation of food is prohibited under the Mandela Rules*, and violates the rights to food and to health, as well as the prohibition of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
We encourage Hungary to ensure it fulfils its human rights obligations towards those deprived of liberty, regardless of whether they are in transit zones or any other place where migrants are detained and cannot provide for themselves.
We reiterate the right of all migrants to seek asylum, as well as the fundamental human rights principle of non-refoulement, which prohibits the return of any person to a situation where they would face a real and foreseeable risk of persecution, death, torture, and other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment, or other irreparable harm.