Hungary Claims It Had to Release People Smugglers to Avoid EU Fines for Crowded Prisons


The State Secretary of Hungary, Bence Rétvári, has said that the government had to take the decision to release convicted people smugglers from the country following criticism from the authorities of other countries.

Explaining Hungary’s move, which according to Rétvári is aimed at avoiding hefty fines imposed by the European Union for prison overcrowding, the Secretary said that Hungary should be refunded instead of being fined, reports.

According to About Hungary, Rétvári emphasised that the EU owed the country more than €1.5 billion for protecting the external border of the EU but had only refunded one per cent of that amount.

The same expressed frustration over the lack of financial support from Brussels and pointed out that while Hungary successfully stopped irregular migrants and apprehended people smugglers, the EU did not contribute to the expenditure of the country’s prisons.

“We stop illegal migrants at our southern border, and we apprehend and then keep in prison the people smugglers, but they expect us to keep foreign people smugglers at the expense of Hungarian taxpayers,” Rétvári said.

He further revealed that Hungary has so far convicted about 2,000 people smugglers, which led to prison overcrowding and European procedures due to inappropriate prison conditions. At the same time, Rétvári stressed that each convict cost the country around €13,300 per year to maintain.

In addition to the above-mentioned, About Hungary explains that Rétvári said that the decision to release a total of 808 convicts was aimed at saving the country’s taxpayers from having to pay the cost of keeping convicts in Hungarian prisons.

The release of these people has generated mixed reactions in the country, with critics expressing concerns about the potential impact on the neighbouring countries of Hungary that will receive the released individuals.

While the EU has not yet responded to the claims of Hungary, Austria has already criticised the decisions to release convicted people smugglers.

The Austrian government asked the Hungarian authorities for an explanation earlier this week following the decision to release convicted people smugglers.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Austria said for Associated Press the decision of Hungary to release convicted people smugglers has a direct impact on Austria’s security. The same said that it expects immediate clarification from the Hungarian authorities.

Moreover, the Austrian authorities considered the decision of Hungary a contradiction.

“The justification that is imprisoning human traffickers with foreign nationalities is too expensive is opposed to Hungary’s previously self-declared hard line against human trafficking,” the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated.

The same noted that the Hungarian authorities need to rethink similar decisions in the future as the entire bloc will be affected.

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