Austria Constitutional Court suspends deportation of Afghan national seeking asylum
© WikiMedia (VfGH/Achim Bieniek)
Austria Constitutional Court suspends deportation of Afghan national seeking asylum

The Austrian Constitutional Court on Wednesday suspended the deportation proceedings of an unidentified Afghan national (“the Applicant”) upon request from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to do so earlier in the month.

The Applicant was scheduled for deportation after two failed asylum applications and was held in a detention facility since April. Upon appeal to the ECHR, the Austrian government was instructed to postpone the planned deportation of the Applicant until the end of the month.

The ECHR also asked the government to explain how it plans to proceed with the deportation considering that the Afghanistan government informed EU members that it will not accept such deported individuals until October 8. The applicant was then released from detention.

Once out of detention, the Applicant filed another asylum request, which ironically revoked his de facto protection against deportation. The Austrian Federal Administrative Court then ordered the continued detention of the Applicant citing security concerns and the risk of his absconding. The Applicant then filed this appeal with the Constitutional Court.

Taking into consideration the current situation in Afghanistan, the Constitutional Court ordered the suspension of deportation proceedings stating that it failed to see how the Applicant can be deported back to Afghanistan in a timely fashion given the legal limits on how long the government can hold a person in detention.

Thus, the Court concluded that further detention and the consequent deprivation of the Applicant’s liberty is not warranted, unless the government can show with certainty that deporting the man back to Afghanistan within a reasonable time period is possible.

The ruling is seen as a blow to Austria’s conservative political officials who plan on continuing to deport Afghans for as long as possible despite the Taliban seizing control. Interior Minister Karl Nehammer even called for deportation centers to be set up in Afghanistan’s neighboring countries, as an alternative to deporting individuals to Afghanistan. However, this is highly unlikely without cooperation from the governments of the neighboring countries.

Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen welcomed the ruling and made a general statement on the situation in Afghanistan:

the idea of continuing to deport Afghan citizens with a negative asylum decision from Austria to Afghanistan is not only out of place, but also contradicts the European Convention on Human Rights enshrined in the Austrian Constitution, which prohibits people from being sent back to a country where they face persecution, torture and murder.