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Pinter: Authorities under ministry have worked well under ‘enormous pressure’

Hungary's authorities controlled by the interior ministry have been under "enormous pressure" in the recent period due to the coronavirus pandemic and illegal migration, but have performed their tasks "with remarkable success", Interior Minister Sandor Pinter said at an annual hearing before parliament's defence and law enforcement committee on Thursday.

Hungarians are satisfied with the performance of the bodies operated by the ministry, he said.

Citing a survey, the minister said that on a 1-5 scale, 33 percent of Hungarians rated the work of the national police force a 5, with just 11 percent giving it a 2 or a 1 rating.

The authorities registered less than 100,000 crimes over the last nine months and almost 80 percent of criminal cases were solved, “something few other European countries can say about themselves”, he said. Public safety has improved and police are more devoted to their work and more successful, he added.

Turning to migration, Pinter said a total of 101,000 migrants had attempted to enter Hungary illegally so far this year, the highest figure recorded since 2015 when 391,000 attempted to enter. More than 700 human smugglers were also apprehended this year, he added.

The ministry has several plans for strengthening the protection of Hungary’s borders, including “expanding the possibility for armed border protection”, he said.

On another subject, he said those rescued from Afghanistan were being cared for and that the ministry would be working with the churches on aiding the integration of those who want to settle in Hungary.

Concerning the prison system, Pinter said more people were being locked up due to the stricter penalties, and although Hungary’s prisons still guaranteed 4 square metres per inmate, more container prisons needed to be built.

Asked about Covid vaccine mandates at state institutions, Pinter said: “We cannot guarantee the security of the country with sick people.” No one working at a hospital can be allowed to get infected and it would also be a problem if the virus made its way into prisons, he said. The minister added that the vaccination rate within the various units at the police force ranged from 68 to 96 percent.

The operative body responsible for handling the pandemic is constantly monitoring the status of the pandemic, Pinter said, adding that he trusted that hospitals could withstand the pressure as they had during the third wave.

“Given that the situation is getting more serious, there will again be a need for stricter measures, likely at the end of this week or next week at the cabinet meeting,” Pinter said. He added that a project group had been tasked with identifying methods that can reduce the mortality rate of the virus.

In response to a question from Jobbik MP Laszlo Gyorgy Lukacs, Pinter said there were more health-care professionals working at state-run hospitals and outpatient clinics than there had been before the law governing their legal status had come into effect.

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