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Austria: New Coalition Government Continues Hard-line Stance on Migration

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Austria
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ECRE
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The Greens’ participation in Austria’s new coalition government failed to overhaul the restrictive asylum and migration policies of the previous right-wing coalition.

Following several months of negotiations, Austria’s Conservative party led by Sebastian Kurz agreed to form a coalition government with the Green Party rather than the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ). Still, the 300-page coalition agreement and several declarations made by the Government indicate that the reached compromise comes at the expense of asylum seekers. The establishment of a Federal Agency in charge of providing legal assistance to asylum seekers (BBU) goes ahead despite numerous concerns raised by UNHCR as well as ECRE members Diakonie and asylkoordination campaign #FairLassen. ECRE has also called for the withdrawal of measures that severely restrict access to independent legal assistance.

Further restrictive measures announced by the government include preventive detention for persons considered to pose a threat to the general public as well as the creation of facilities at the border to process asylum seekers who are already living in urban areas, thus contributing to their isolation. The prospective introduction of a headscarf ban on girls under the age of 14 at state schools could hamper integration of Muslim refugees.

Asylkoordination expressed concern over the constitutionality of preventive detention and assured that they will exhaust all means to prevent the end of independent legal assistance in Austria.