UNHCR warns Austria over changes to asylum act

1st April 2011, Comments 0 comments

The UN refugee agency warned Austria on Friday that new provisions to be introduced in new asylum legislation could harm children's interests.

"UNHCR is worried about new draft changes to the Austrian Asylum Act that further restrict asylum seeker rights and could, if implemented, be harmful to the interests of children in particular," said Andrej Mahecic, a spokesman for the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Mahecic highlighted a provision which would allow children between the age of 14 and 18 to be detained.

Besides children, the spokesman also noted the new draft bill would require all asylum seekers to stay in a reception centre for up to seven days, and that anyone who breaks this rule could be detained.

"This would in our view constitute an unjustified restriction on freedom of movement. It could also prevent new asylum seekers from being able to get advice or support including legal counseling," Mahecic said.

© 2011 AFP

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