Discrimination at Budapest Airport by Canadian officials

The Cornwall Newswatch, a small Canadian news site from eastern Ontario, published a letter this week from reader Frank Marton, which details increasingly common and disturbing discriminatory practices at Budapest’s Liszt Ferenc International Airport, against Hungarian citizens looking to visit Canada. A few months ago, similar incidents against Hungarian passport holders (especially, but not exclusively, those who officials presumed were Roma), occurred on a regular basis at the airport in Vienna. But since Air Transat and SkyGreece launched a new route between Toronto, Montreal and Budapest, Hungarians seeking to travel oversees directly from Budapest-Ferihegy have often been victims of blatant discrimination and, it would appear, racial profiling.

The indignity suffered by Mr. Marton’s family at the hands of officials working for the Government of Canada at Liszt Ferenc International Airport is not unique. We are sharing his letter below, and HFP will be contacting Canada’s embassy in Budapest, to find out more about what happened and which Canadian diplomats may have been involved.


A Canadian Air Transat flight takes off from Budapest Airport. Photo: Magyar Közlekedés Online.

A Canadian Air Transat flight takes off from Budapest Airport. Photo: Magyar Közlekedés Online.

It is hard to find a more grotesque, insulting or degrading system than the screening of unwanted individuals from entering Canada by immigration officials. This time the long arm of this office went too far. Several of the would be visitors to Canada have been prevented from even boarding the airplane that would have taken them straight from Budapest to Montreal. Representatives of the Canadian embassy started picking off people with proper (EU) passports and a letter of invitation, lined up at the check in desk. Without warning or any other notification, two hours before takeoff Canadian (Hungarian and English speaking) embassy personnel demanded from the Hungarian travellers to produce three thousand dollars in cash and the letter of invitation signed by a notary as an ID.

On July 30th, my wife’s daughter, found herself in this situation. As Agnes was anxiously awaiting to visit her mother, embassy officials prevented her from boarding the plane. Unfortunately, many people found themselves in this situation including an entire soccer team and a young boy who was coming to Canada to receive special medical treatment.

Restricting legal freedom of movement brings back memories of the iron curtain era. Ironically, Hungary was the forerunner in abolishing the iron curtain in 1989. Shortly after this date, Hungary lifted requirements for a visa.

I, among many others have annually hosted relatives and friends, acting as tour guides, for many years spending their vacation and money. While in Canada they have observed this country’s rules and law, and enjoyed their stay.

The disappointment (not to speak of the financial loss of $1000.00 US) my wife and her daughter felt in not having arrived in Montreal on the 30th of July is immeasurable and left a scar in our soul that leaves us very apprehensive of our respect of the Canadian immigration system.

In the meantime, we are at a loss of what recourse to take. It is obvious, based on the above, this action is the result of one or two of the representatives from the consulate in Budapest, Hungary. They trampled upon human rights, causing us many sleepless nights. Beware the intricacies of eastern European travels. Respected Canadian laws around the world may not be sufficient in every situation.

Frank Marton

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