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Retvari: Decision to expel people smugglers consequence of EU penalties over crowded prisons

The Hungarian government "had to" make a decision to expel convicted people smugglers from the country because "Brussels refuses to contribute to border control costs but fines Hungary if its prisons are overcrowded", a state secretary of the interior ministry told MTI on Tuesday.

Bence Retvari said the European Union owed Hungary over 1.5 billion euros in return for Hungary protecting the bloc’s external borders. He insisted that the EU had only refunded one percent of that “unbelievably large total”. “We stop illegal migrants at our southern border, and we apprehend and then keep in prison the people smugglers,” he added. The EU does not contribute to the expenditure of Hungarian prisons “but they expect us to keep foreign people smugglers at the expense of Hungarian taxpayers,” he said.

The some 2,000 people smugglers heve been convicted in Hungary so far, contributing to prison overcrowding, Retvari said, and noted that Hungary had faced European procedures because of “inhumane prison conditions”. He also added that the cost of keeping one convict in prison amounted to an annual 5 million forints (EUR 13,300). The decision to expel 808 convicts, mostly nationals of neighbouring countries, was aimed at “saving Hungarian taxpayers from having to pay the cost of keeping them in Hungarian prisons”, he said.

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