“Three minors pushbacked from Hungary's interior”

  • Date and time: August 8, 2019 03:00
  • Location: near Tompa border crossing, Hungary
  • Coordinates: 46.151283706351364, 19.517765966636148
  • Push-back from: Hungary
  • Push-back to: Serbia
  • Demographics: 3 person(s), age: 15-16 years old; respondent: 16 , from: Afghanistan
  • Minors involved? Yes
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking
  • Police involved: over 5 Hungarian police officers; 2 Serbian police officers
  • Taken to a police station?: yes
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: detention, fingerprints taken, photos taken, papers signed, no translator present, denial of food/water
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: No
  • Reported by: Border Violence Monitoring, Escuela Con Alma

Original Report

On the night of August 7th, six Afghan teenagers – all below the age of 18 – climbed onto a fright train in Subotica (Serbia), hoping to reach Hungary and beyond. As the train crossed the Hungarian border at Kelebia (Hungary) at approximately 02:00 on the following morning of 8th August, the minors observed that Hungarian police officers were approaching the train. Knowing that most transit groups are discovered and returned at Kelebia (Hungary), three of the six minors from the transit group decided to climb down from the train, to prevent the Hungarian police officers from discovering them.

While they disembarked, the three teenagers who remained on the train were indeed discovered and subsequently returned to Serbia by Hungarian police. The three others who had climbed down from the train (from now on referred to as “the transit group”) managed to evade the Hungarian police officers.

The transit group made onward travel to Budapest (Hungary), arriving to the capital at approximately 05:00 the same day. The respondent was not sure about where precisely in Budapest their train had stopped, but it appears likely from the respondent’s description that it was a freight train station close to Ferencvaros.

The transit group climbed down from the train and began walking towards the city centre. They attempted to make contact with acquaintances, but were unable to do so because they did not have a Hungarian sim card. Similarly, they were lacking Hungarian currency, and were thus unable to use an internet cafe. In the early afternoon, growing increasingly hungry and desperate, the transit group decided to return to the train station, where they had arrived in the morning. Their aim was to try climbing onto another train and head towards Austria.

The transit group found several trains to which they tried, unsuccessfully, to attach themselves. As each train started moving, members of the transit group attempted, but were unable to hang onto them. Late that afternoon, the transit group saw three Hungarian police officers entering the station’s precincts. Firstly, the three minors tried to hide behind some trains and rubble but finally, hungry and exhausted, they decided to give up and hand themselves into the police for arrest.

The Hungarian police officers, wearing dark blue uniforms, made the members of the transit group stand by a wall with their hands above their heads and their backs to the police officers. None of the police officers communicated in English with the transit group. Instead, the Hungarian police officers beat the teenagers’ backs and necks with batons and kicked their legs before handcuffing them. The transit group was then led to a blue, Sedan-sized police car and driven to a police station approximately 20 minutes from the train station.

The same Hungarian officers who had arrested the transit group remained present in the police station. As it was a fairly large police station, a lot more Hungarian police officers were present but the respondent was unable to recall exact numbers.

At first, the members of the transit group were separated into single cells for approximately one and a half hours. The respondent’s cell was small, approximately six square meters, and pictures displaying forbidden items – knives etc. – covered the walls. Additionally, there were official inscriptions on the wall in Turkish, Arabic, and Urdu, among other languages. The cell had a small window.

The transit group was held in individual cells, from which they were called out individually. Hungarian police officers took pictures of them with their cell phones. The respondent’s fingerprints were taken, and he was handed some documents in Hungarian, which the respondent did not understand. During his individual procedure, the respondent said that Hungarian officers assured him that he and his friends would be provided with accommodation and that they would be able to remain in the country.

After each member of the transit group had gone through this process, they were put in a group cell. There, the transit group was told that they would be deported shortly, despite the earlier assurances. The Afghan teenagers, who had not eaten for the entire day, were not provided with food at any point, but access to the toilet was granted to them at the police station.

Shortly after midnight on August 9th, Hungarian police officers ordered the transit group out of the group cell and told them to enter a police van, which was driven by two Hungarian police officers. The van was colored white from the outside, and the interior was divided by wire mesh fence into several sub-sections. In the van’s rear, where the transit group was located, there were several brown chairs next to the van’s wall.

The drive lasted for some two and a half hours until the transit group was told to get out of the van at a “door” in the Hungarian-Serbian border fence close to Tompa (Hungary). The Hungarian police officers opened the door into Serbia and told the transit group to walk towards Subotica (Serbia). Several hundred meters behind the border fence, the transit group encountered two Serbian police officers. They told the teenagers not to take a bus or taxi back to Subotica (Serbia) but walk the entire distance, which took the teenagers approximately three hours and caused severe blisters on some of the teenagers’ feet. They arrived at around 06:00 in the morning – 30 hours after they had left.