UN 'shocked' at Hungary survey linking immigrants to terrorism

22nd May 2015, Comments 0 comments

The United Nations voiced outrage Friday about a questionnaire distributed last week in Hungary suggesting a link between immigration and terrorism, warning it could boost xenophobia in the country.

"We are shocked by the prime minister's introductory message, which suggests a link between migration and terrorist attacks, including the attack which took place in Paris in early January this year," Cecile Pouilly, spokeswoman for the UN human rights agency, told reporters.

She was reacting to a questionnaire sent out to Hungary's around eight million citizens over the age of 18 about their attitudes to immigration.

Pouilly pointed out that the introductory message from Prime Minister Viktor Orban also stated that economic migrants represented a "new threat" to Hungary, insisting the country needed to determine how to "defend itself against illegal immigrants".

The message also stressed that migrants should not be allowed to "jeopardise the jobs and livelihood of Hungarians".

Pouilly said the UN rights agency was also concerned about the "suggestive, leading questions" in the survey, "which actively promote hostility towards migrants and risk spreading xenophobia within the country".

Among the 12 questions on the survey was for instance a question about whether respondents agree that "mismanagement of the immigration question by Brussels may have something to do with increased terrorism".

The Hungarian leader has also angered EU lawmakers and officials this week by insisting that Budapest had the right to debate closing the door to migrants and reintroducing the death penalty.

He told hundreds of lawmakers and members of the European Commission, the executive of the 28-nation EU, that its new migration plan -- proposing binding quotas on member states to admit refugees -- was "absurd, bordering on insanity".

In a sign of the tense relations between Orban and his EU partners, European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker was overheard Friday jokingly greeting him at an EU summit in Riga as "dictator".

Pouilly stressed Friday that Hungarian authorities "have a duty under international human rights law to combat xenophobia and discrimination".

"Migration policies should be principled and evidence-based and start from the premise that all migrants, regardless of their legal status, how they arrive at borders or where they come from, are entitled to enjoy their human rights, in line with international law," she added.

The human rights agency also took issue with Orban's decision to launch a debate on reintroducing the death penalty because he says existing penalties are too soft.

"Any attempt to reinstate the death penalty in Hungary would be a terrible setback in the global fight against the use of capital punishment," Pouilly said.

© 2015 AFP

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