Migrant crisis: Austria passes controversial new asylum law

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Source: BBC

Austria has passed a controversial new law that restricts the right of asylum and allows most claimants to be rejected directly at the border.

Rights groups say the law undermines the principle of protection from war and persecution.

It comes days after Austria’s far-right came top in the first round of a presidential election.

Austrian officials say they are also considering building a fence at the main border crossing with Italy.

The new asylum law lets the government declare a “state of emergency” over the migrant crisis and reject most asylum-seekers, including those from war-torn countries such as Syria.

It also limits any successful asylum claim to three years.

“These amendments are a glaring attempt to keep people out of Austria and its asylum system,” said Amnesty Europe director Gauri van Gulik.

But Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka said Austria had no other choice as long as “so many other EU members fail to do their part” to limit the influx of migrants and refugees.

“We cannot shoulder the whole world’s burden,” he said.

Border fence proposed

Meanwhile, the police chief in Tyrol said Austria was proposing building a 400m fence at the Brenner crossing in the province.

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