The Austrian government wants to make it easier to deport migrants who have committed lesser crimes. The country also plans to push for similar changes across the European Union.
Austria’s conservative government announced on Wednesday that it wanted to see policy change across the EU, making it possible for countries to expel migrants with less serious criminal convictions. According to the UN Refugee Convention, host countries can only deport migrants who have been convicted of "a particularly serious crime" such as murder, rape or armed robbery, but not for lesser crimes.
"This is not in line with common sense, and it doesn't make sense for the Austrian population," the Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, said. He added that the 2015 refugee influx had brought anti-Semitism, violence and a lack of respect for women into the country.
Austria's Interior Minister, Herbert Kickl, said he aimed to amend the country's asylum law in order to lower the bar to include even petty crimes, if possible. "I'm fed up with a situation in which human rights and international agreements protect those who trample on our rule of law, while Austrian citizens fall by the wayside," Kickl said.
Syrian arrested over violent crime
The announcement came a day after a 19-year-old Syrian refugee was taken into custody for allegedly strangling his 16-year-old Austrian ex-girlfriend to death.
In a separate case last month, a 17-year-old Afghan was accused of stabbing to death a 16-year-old girl with whom he had a relationship. The Afghan youth had not received refugee status but was allowed to stay in Austria on humanitarian grounds.