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  – 19.04.2006

[Austria] 100 Days Asylum- and Foreigner’s Law: Deflating Stock of the Church Social Service

Chalupka: “Too Much Suffering and Too Much Despair” – Law Breaches European Convention of Human Rights

Vienna, April 19th, 2006 (epd Ö) – The Head of the Protestant Church Social Service, Michael Chalupka, has taken a deflating stock of the first 100 days of the new asylum- and foreigner’s law on Maundy Thursday. “More and more people who take refuge with us only get to know Austria as a custody pending deportation prison”, he criticised vehemently in a press conference. The law created “too much suffering and too much despair.” Therefore, the practical execution of the asylum law had to be changed immediately and the social severities of the law had to be removed as soon as possible. The new law package relating to aliens is effective in Austria since January 1st, 2006. Since then, the number of prisoners has increased by one-third and the custody pending deportation could be extended by 10 months, criticised Chalupka who demanded “quick and fair asylum procedures”. The law also breached the European Convention of Human Rights.
In 2005, according to tentative numbers of the Ministry of the Interior, 22,471 people applied for asylum. Out of those, 4,552 cases were admitted, predominantly from Chechnya and Kosovo. Particularly in four subject areas, practices, questionable by human rights, had occurred through the new law package relating to aliens, according to the Refugee Work of Church Social Service. It stood out, that men were “categorically” taken in custody pending deportation, according to Chalupka. Family fathers were divided from their families, this way. It was also dramatic, that one could only apply for family reunions at the competent authorities, which resulted in “enormous distances”. Moreover, traumatised and ill people were deported to another EU country, should it be responsible due to the “Treaty of Dublin”. Furthermore, spouses of Austrians could be deported more easily.
Therefore, the Head of Church Social Service demanded concrete changes of the asylum- and foreigner’s law to put a stop to the “inhumanity” that was at the bottom of the law. The custody pending deportation was no place for asylum seekers, even “Dublin cases” could be placed in guesthouses or asylums instead of prisons. At weddings, a transitional period had to be integrated; one should be able to submit applications for family reunions by post. An asylum court would yield improvements as well, according to Chalupka.
According to the Head of Church Social Service, “much lies on the table that could yield improvements”. All of this should be integrated in laws; with this, the “parties could be on par with”.

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