The Latest: Hungary defends new asylum law criticized by UN

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Posted: Mar 10, 2017 9:44 AM
The Latest: Hungary defends new asylum law criticized by UN

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The Latest on migration issues in Europe (all times local):

4:45 p.m.

Hungary's prime minister says new rules allowing the detention of all asylum-seekers, including unaccompanied minors older than 14, in camps on the Serbian border made of shipping containers are in line with European Union legal standards.

The legislation has come under fire from the United Nations' refugee and children's agencies, as well as the Council of Europe and human rights advocates.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Friday in Brussels that Hungary is not "locking anyone up anywhere," since those who don't want to wait for the result of their asylum request in the transit zones, "can leave toward Serbia."

Orban said that while no national leaders attending the European Council objected to the new Hungarian rules, he expected a debate on the matter with the European Commission.

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3:25 p.m.

Germany's upper house of Parliament has rejected a new law that would have made it easier to deport some migrants by declaring Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia "safe countries of origin."

The decision means the measure will now have to go to a committee for the lower house and upper house to try and negotiate a compromise proposal.

Germany's top security official Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere accused some of the states that make up the upper house of playing politics, and said the decision "makes today a bad day for our efforts to stop illegal migration."

He said citizens of the three countries are almost never deserving of asylum, like refugees fleeing war, and it was "absolutely counterproductive to send a signal of indecision instead of resolve."

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12 p.m.

Greece's supreme court has heard the appeals of two Syrian refugees against their planned deportation to Turkey, a case that could affect thousands trapped on Greece's islands under a year-old European Union deal with Turkey.

The two men, aged 21 and 29, reached Greece's eastern island of Lesbos in July 2016, four months after the agreement designed to stem uncontrolled migration flows came into effect.

Their bids for asylum in Greece were rejected.

Under the March 20 agreement, migrants should be returned to Turkey, which is deemed a safe country for refugees, unless they can convince authorities that they merit asylum in Greece instead. Rights groups have criticized the deal.

The supreme court in Athens on Friday heard arguments by lawyers. A new hearing is planned for next Friday.