Overview of the of the main changes since the previous report update

Austria

Country Report: Overview of the of the main changes since the previous report update Last updated: 30/11/20

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Asylkoordination Österreich Visit Website

The report was previously updated in March 2019.

Asylum procedure

 

  • Legal assistance: In 2019, the system of legal assistance has been drastically changed following the introduction of the law establishing a Federal Agency for Supervision and Support Services (Bundesagentur für Betreuungs- und Unterstützungsleistungen, BBU-G).[1] It foresees that this new Federal Agency will be in charge inter alia of providing legal assistance to asylum seekers in first and second instance as of January 2021, thus excluding the possibility for NGOs to be sponsored by the Government for the purpose of legal assistance. The Federal Agency falls under the responsibility of the Ministry of Interior, whose influence will inevitably affect the provision of objective and independent legal assistance.
  • Access to apprenticeship: In 2018, the government had abolished the access to apprenticeship for asylum seekers with the aim to prevent an overlap between migration and asylum policies. However, given that around 1,000 asylum seekers who had received a first instance negative decision on their asylum claim were already in apprenticeship, a civil society initiative led to an amendment of the Aliens Police Act (FPG) in December 2019. The latter foresees that rejected asylum seekers are allowed to finish their vocational training, even after receiving a negative decision.[2] Nevertheless, asylum seekers are not granted a legal stay and their situation cannot be regularised; i.e. they will be forced to leave upon termination of their apprenticeship.
  • Safe countries of origin: While Sri Lanka was deleted from the list of safe countries of origin, Namibia, Uruguay and South Korea were added to it.
  • Afghan nationals: Many Afghan nationals have seen their asylum application rejected at first and second instance on the grounds that other internal protection alternatives were available.

Reception conditions

  • Provision of basic care: The new Federal Agency for Supervision and Support Services (BBU) will be responsible for the provision of reception conditions, i.e. basic care, as of December 2021.
  • Conditions in return centres: In June 2019, several rejected asylum seekers started a hunger strike in an isolated return centre in Fieberbrunn, Tyrol, arguing that reception conditions are insufficient. In cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Ministry of Interior conducted a visit to assess the situation in the return centre which led to the publication of several human rights recommendations.[3] At the time of writing, these recommendations were still not implemented.
  • Social benefits: A law passed in June 2019 foresaw that social benefits could be cut if a certain level of German language is not reached.[4] It also foresaw that social benefits should be reduced in accordance with the number of children in each family (e.g. first child : 25%, second child : 15%, third and other children: 5%). However, in December 2019, the Constitutional Court ruled that these provisions were unconstitutional.[5]

Detention of asylum seekers

  • Detention of vulnerable persons: Vulnerable persons and persons with specific needs continued to be detained, as confirmed by a mission report published by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in early 2019.[6] Staff in immigration detention centres, including medical staff, are not adequately prepared to handle such cases, which is due both to the lack of training and capacity gaps.
  • Detention conditions: A Hungarian national died in a detention centre in June 2019. Although he was not an asylum seeker, the issue arouse a lot of public attention as regards the poor detention conditions in Austria.[7] There is currently a pending criminal procedure as well as an administrative procedure challenging the detention conditions in Austria in front of the Courts.[8]

Content of international protection

  • Cessation of protection status: In 2019, the determining authority put a lot of attention to cessation procedures. Many of these were triggered in cases concerning longtime asylum status holders, who were subsequently granted a permanent residence status instead (EU Daueraufenthalt). Cessation procedures are triggered particularly in cases where a status holder has travelled to his or her home country.Moreover, while the recognition rate concerning Afghan applicants has slightly increased in 2019, the number of cessation procedures concerning Afghan status holder has significantly increased. Important discrepancies in the rulings of the Administrative Court and the Constitutional Court have been noted on the matter.

[1] Federal Law on the Establishment of the Federal Agency for Care and Support Services Limited Liability Company (BBU-G), available in German at: https://bit.ly/2RG8gY5.

[2] Articles 55a and 125 Aliens Police Act.

[3] Ministry of Interior, Human rights recommendations, available in German at: https://bit.ly/3azhrjA.

[4]  Statements to the Draft of the Basic Law on Social Assistance (Sozialhilfe Grundsatzgesetz), available in German at: https://bit.ly/331nhYo.

[5] Press statement of the Constitutional Court (VfGHG), 17 December 2019, available in German at: https://bit.ly/333xXpo; VfGHG, Decision 171/2019, 17 December 2019.

[6] OHCHR, Report on the mission to Austria focusing on the human rights of migrants, particularly in the context of return, October 2018, available at: https://bit.ly/2u4JoQE.

[7] ORF.at, ‘Mann in Schubhaft gestorben’, 13 June 2019, available in German at: https://bit.ly/3cHLjfF;  Krone.at, ‘58-Jähriger stirbt in Schubhaft-Einzelzelle’, 13 June 2019, available in German at: https://bit.ly/2VYyvf0.

[8] Diakonie, ‘Todesfall in Schubhaft’, 13 June 2019, available in German at: https://bit.ly/2PXLEB0.

 

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation