Amnesty: Austria's refugee cap violates human rights

Amnesty International says Austrian cap on daily number of refugees able to claim asylum violates human rights

Photo by: AP (Archive )
Photo by: AP (Archive )

A girl looks through the fence while she and other refugees wait for buses in Nickelsdorf, Austria, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015.

The Human rights group Amnesty International on Tuesday accused Austria of violating the human rights of refugees by capping the number of asylum applications it will accept.

"The Geneva Convention [for refugee rights] does not know the terms quota or admission limit... and the Geneva Convention is binding law in Austria. We are breaking international law," the head of Amnesty International Austria, Heinz Patzelt, said on ORF radio.

Austria is the last stop for refugees before they reach Germany. The country introduced the daily caps on Friday despite criticism from the European Union.

A woman holds a baby as migrants queue to cross the border into Spielfeld in Austria from the village of Sentilj, Slovenia, October 28, 2015. (Reuters)

Austria says it is responding to the lack of collaboration that other countries in the Union have displayed by refusing receive enough migrants or by failing to protect the EU's external borders after Austria took 90,000 asylum seekers last year.

Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann said, "Last year, we had around 6,000 more asylum applications than Italy. We have had a lot more than asylum seekers than France. And anyone who has ever looked at a map knows that, for example, those two countries are larger than Austria and also have more inhabitants.

"Politically I say we'll stick with it. Sweden and Germany will have to speak for themselves but it's unthinkable for Austria to take on the asylum seekers for the whole of Europe.”

Austria's Interior Minister Johanna Mikl Leitner told reporters "I am very happy with our decision and we will stick to it."

A spokesman for the Austrian Interior Ministry said that setting daily quotas of asylum seekers from across its border with Slovenia was "completely within the legal framework."

More than 1 million refugees entered the European Union in 2015 and some 84,000 have arrived there so far this year.

Most of the refugees seeking asylum come from war-torn countries such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Austria, Germany and Scandinavia are the main destinations for refugees who have entered Europe with the intention of seeking asylum.

TRTWorld and agencies