Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Austria: Tougher action against rejected asylum seekers to become law

(Wien) Austria's coalition government has agreed on a draft law which would allow the authorities to stop providing accommodation and food to rejected asylum seekers who refuse to leave the country. The bill, which has still to be approved by parliament, is part of a wider reform of laws dealing with foreigners in Austria, which includes fines or prison sentences for migrants who lie about their identity. The Austrian government is preparing a package of policies aimed at countering the rise of the far-right Freedom Party whose candidate came close to winning the presidential election in December. Minister Wolfgang Sobotka stated:
"The first thing is basically that they don't get anything from the Austrian state if they don't have the right to stay here. Is that so hard to understand?"
In 2015, Austria took in around 90,000 asylum seekers, which comes in at around 1 percent of its population,Since then, Austria has tightened immigration restrictions and helped shut down the route through the Balkans by which almost all those people use in which to enter Europe. The measures will include the following:

Those who stay will lose their monthly social payments. Plans to introduce penalties between 5,000 and 15,000 euros (5,300 and 15,900 dollars) for migrants who remain in Austria. As a final measure, rejected migrants may be detained before they are forcibly flown back to their home countries. The maximum length of this detention will be expanded from 10 to 18 months. Some 4,000 persons who have been denied asylum live in Austria, half of them cannot leave for medical reasons or because they are underage.

The Austrian office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said the bill was "highly questionable" and urged lawmakers to think hard about agreeing to it.