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The London summit this week could kick-start the revival of the stalled reform process in the region – but won’t if human rights and the rule of law stay off the agenda

Click to expand Image Migrants are seen in front of a dorm…
Migrants are seen in front of a dorm destroyed during Bosnian 1992-1995 war, in Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina May 11, 2018.
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Hungary’s governing party is cranking up the heat on nongovernmental organizations.  With its tight grip on parliament, and having undermined the courts and the media, the Fidesz government doesn’t like being held to account by pesky independent groups.…
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban speaks during his state-of-the-nation address in Budapest, Hungary, February 10, 2017.
News

Asylum Seekers Denied Access to Protection; Subject to Violence

(Budapest) – Croatian police are forcing asylum seekers back to Serbia from inside Croatia, in some cases using violence, without giving them an opportunity to lodge claims for protection, Human Rights Watch said today.
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Migrants wait in line to receive free food during a snowfall outside a derelict customs warehouse in Belgrade, Serbia January 9, 2017.
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Serbia, Hungary Leave People Without Adequate Shelter as Winter Hits Hard

While many in Serbia prepare for Orthodox Christmas, others in the country and neighboring Hungary are bedding down in freezing cold weather hoping to survive.
 Temperatures in Hungary and Serbia have dropped to minus 20 degrees centigrade at night.…
Asylum seekers and migrants living in appalling conditions in abandoned warehouses behind Belgrade train station, Serbia. November 22, 2016.
News
Alexander Van der Bellen, who campaigned on moderation and tolerance, won Austria’s presidential election. But in the search for explanations as to how the country came close to electing a far-right populist as its president, some have suggested that…
Australia cartoon
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Ensure Asylum Access; Investigate Cruel, Violent Pushbacks

(Budapest) – Migrants at Hungary’s border are being summarily forced back to Serbia, in some cases with cruel and violent treatment, without consideration of their claims for protection, Human Rights Watch said today.
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Asylum seekers in Roszke waiting for days and weeks to be admitted to the transit zone, Hungary, March 31, 2016.
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(Milan) – The law approved today by the National Council of the Austrian parliament is a blow to the rights of asylum seekers, Human Rights Watch said today. The law, which is expected to pass quickly and unchallenged in the parliament’s upper chamber,…
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The Hungarian government today dealt yet another blow to asylum seekers and migrants by declaring a state of emergency throughout the entire country due to “mass migration.” The decision follows a similar declaration on September 16, 2015, imposing a…
Migrants walk along Hungary's border fence on the Serbian side of the border near Morahalom, Hungary, February 22, 2016
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(November 17, 2015) More than 800,000 asylum seekers and migrants have arrived in Europe by sea in 2015, with most traveling onward to northern and western EU countries. According to UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, 84 percent were from Syria,…
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Stranded in Misery by Delay, Lack of Coordination, Indifference

(Budapest) –The European Union and Western Balkans countries meeting on October 25, 2015, should focus on alleviating the suffering of migrants and asylum seekers stranded at various European borders, Human Rights Watch said today.
 Cascading border…
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Over the past two days, thousands of asylum seekers and migrants have embarked on a 100-mile march from Budapest to the Austrian border. They left behind the squalor and uncertainty at Keleti train station to create their own humanitarian corridor through…
Refugees march from Hungary to Austria, September 5, 2015.
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The Hungarian government’s problematic approach to asylum seekers and migrants has hit a new low. The changes to the Hungarian asylum law as of August 1, among other things, mean that asylum claims from anyone entering via a country on a safe “third”…
hungary migrants
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Meeting in Washington with Prime Minister

(Washington, DC) – US Vice President Joe Biden should urge Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucić to take concrete steps to advance human rights protection, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to Biden released today. Biden and Vucić will meet this week…