TODAY • 6:37 AM
/ 6 minutes reading time
Another case of illegal rejection of asylum seekers at the border is documented in Austria. At the end of July, a minor from Somalia, together with a group of five other refugees, is said to have been returned from Austria to Slovenia, although the Somali made it clear to officials several times that he wanted to apply for asylum. His lawyer therefore lodged a complaint with the Provincial Administrative Court of Styria.
From the beginning, the 17-year-old Amin made it clear in English several times that he wanted to apply for international protection in Austria – which would give him protection from deportation, explains the Viennese lawyer Clemens Lahner in the APA submitted this action complaint. Accordingly, Amin was picked up on July 25th in Bad Radkersburg after he had traveled via Turkey and the Balkans to Slovenia and crossed the border to Austria on foot accompanied by five adult asylum seekers from other African countries. The case was documented by the Alarm Phone Austria initiative and asylkoordination Österreich and has now been made public.
Already when he was arrested, during the search and during the several hours’ stay in the police station in the presence of officials, the young boy had repeatedly indicated that he wanted to apply for asylum and protection from persecution in Austria and uttered the word asylum (“asylum”) . Nevertheless, no procedure was initiated to examine the application, but “only the personal data of the BF (complainant, note) was recorded, fingerprints were taken and photographs were taken”, it continues. There was also no questioning with the help of an interpreter, nor were the 17-year-old documents that he had to sign translated or given afterwards, which, according to Lahner, violated the documentation requirement.
The rejection was unlawful because, according to the Asylum Act, the minor Somali had de facto protection from deportation and a procedure to review his application for international protection should have been carried out, said the lawyer, who filed a complaint with the Provincial Administrative Court of Styria in a very similar case last year had brought in and was successful with it.
In the case in which a 21-year-old Moroccan was also apprehended in Styria at the end of September 2020 and was returned to Slovenia after a few hours despite a clear request for asylum, the responsible judge ruled at the beginning of July that this was unlawful. In any case, the security organs should have perceived the “audible demand for asylum”. The young man’s right to respect for human dignity (among other things, he had to kneel down and completely undress) and his right to adequate documentation had been violated, the verdict said.
In that case, the judge also came to the conclusion that pushbacks “are sometimes used methodically in Austria” and held that it was in all probability a chain deportation via Slovenia and Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina, which the officers involved are also aware of. The Ministry of the Interior in Vienna initially rejected the allegations and stated that the refugees did not want to apply for asylum; after the judge’s verdict, they only referred to the Styrian regional police station.
According to its own information, the Push-Back Alarm Austria initiative currently has around 15 similar suspected cases of illegal rejections. Interior Minister Karl Nehammer (ÖVP) can no longer “shift responsibility as usual and point the finger at others,” said Lukas Gahleitner-Gertz, spokesman for asylkoordination Österreich, in a broadcast sent to the APA. The public prosecutor’s office is now called upon to clarify whether there are “illegal instructions from the very top for an illegal push-back route in the Balkans or whether the interior minister does not have his shop under control,” demanded Gahleitner-Gertz. The asylkoordination and Alarm Phone also appealed to issue an entry permit in the event of an unlawful rejection being found, as well as financial compensation claims for the injured party.
Stephanie Krisper, NEOS spokeswoman for the interior, also sharply criticized the interior minister on the occasion of the new case. He is “simply not interested in the inhuman method that is going on here, or he is telling the untruth. Both would be absolutely unacceptable, “she said in a statement sent to the APA on Monday. It is a shame that people who apply for asylum in Austria are “abused as a deterrent at the borders”.