The Austrian Foreign Ministry has summoned the Hungarian ambassador in Vienna to protest against the early release of foreign prisoners convicted in the neighboring country of human trafficking on the condition that they leave Magyar territory within 72 hours.
This was announced from Brussels by the Austrian Foreign Minister, the conservative Alexander Schallenbergafter revealing that he had already boarded with his Magyar counterpart, Péter Szijjártóthis matter that, he admitted, has caused tensions between the two neighboring countries.
“We want full clarification because we believe it is a completely wrong signal,” Schallenberg was quoted as saying by Austrian media. He was referring to the “worrying” reports in the Hungarian press about the release of foreign prisoners.
In the minister’s opinion, Budapest’s “apparent” argument that having them in prison is too expensive is contradicted by the “apparently clear line” of a strong hand against human trafficking that the conservative government of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, has applied in the past.
The Magyar press reported last Thursday that the aforementioned foreign prisoners had begun to be released.
The release was made possible by a decree that the Orbán government approved in April and that allows the release of these prisoners on the condition that they leave Hungary within 72 hours.
The justification of those of Orban
The Minister of the Interior, Gergely Gulyás, then justified the measure with the saturation of the prisons in Hungary, for which the European Union (EU) has already criticized the Central European country. At the end of 2022, there were more than 19,000 detainees in Hungarian prisons, of whom 12% had been convicted of human trafficking.
Data from the Hungarian Ministry of the Interior published by the private radio station RTL put the number of foreigners in jail at 2,048 (from 73 countries), of which some 700 would meet the requirements to be released.
The measure has also sparked protests from other prisoners, especially those of Hungarian nationality who are convicted of the same crime and see it as unfair that foreigners go on to enjoy freedom and they do not, reports the digital newspaper Hvg.
Reacting to the unusual Hungarian move, Austria has already tightened controls on its border with Hungary, making them even stricter than they already were despite warnings from Brussels that they contradict the Schengen Treaty on free movement.
Controls have been intensified and focus on vehicles coming from Hungary, Romania and Serbia, confirmed the Austrian Ministry of the Interior to the local agency APA.
Szijjártó today criticized that reaction from Vienna, which “goes against the rules of the Schengen area.”
While the Austrians enter Hungary without problems, the Hungarians have to wait a long time at the borders to cross into the neighboring country, denounced the head of Magyar diplomacy.
Speaking to the press in Brussels, the Hungarian minister defended the decision to release foreign prisoners as a measure “that does not go against any country” and that it is related to the fact that for Budapest, illegal immigration “continues to be a very dangerous phenomenon.”
Hungary expels “foreign criminals”, the minister emphasized. The Austrian government has revealed that it is also considering reviewing its close police cooperation with Hungary.
Source: HuffPost Spain for Athena2 by www.huffingtonpost.es.
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