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9th October, 2019

EU Court: journalists may not be barred from camps

The Hungarian state violated the rights of a journalist by denying him entry to refugee camps in 2015, the European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday.

The Civil Liberties Union (TASZ), which represented journalist Illés Szurovecz, said that, at the peak of the refugee crisis, he tried to report on the circumstances prevailing at a Debrecen refugee camp as a journalist for the website Abcug.

The ombudsman had earlier stated that conditions in the camp violated the rights of asylum seekers.

The Immigration and Citizenship Office, which operated the camp, refused to allow Szurovecz on the premises, arguing that admitting journalists would jeopardise the security of asylum seekers living in the camp, since journalists’ reports could reach those countries which they had fled.

The Hungarian state argued that the journalist could have worked from reports by NGOs about the camp or could have conducted interviews outside the camp.

However, the European Court said first-hand information verified by a journalist is much more valuable than data obtained indirectly from other sources.

Sources regularly consulted, with abbreviations used in text: Népszabadság (N); Magyar Hírlap (MH); Világgazdaság (VG); Napi Gazdaság (NG); Magyar Nemzet (MN); Népszava (Nsz); Kossuth Rádió news (KR); nightly TV news (TV).

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