The Austrian government is working with Britain to consider its own Rwanda-style deportation scheme for asylum seekers.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman met her counterpart in Vienna on Thursday to discuss closer co-operation on migration issues. Austria’s interior minister Gerhard Karner said that they wanted to learn from the UK and share knowledge on third-country removals.
The UK has been attempting to send asylum seekers to Rwanda to have their claims processed. The plan has however faced numerous legal set backs, with the Court of Appeal ruling in June that the multi-million-pound deal was unlawful.
The plan was considered by the UK’s Supreme Court last month, and a ruling is expected in December.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman signs a joint statement on migration and security with Austria’s Interior Minister Gerhard Karner in Vienna, Austria.
In a joint statement after the meeting, Austria’s interior minister Mr Karner said that the UK had “a lot of experience when it comes to processing asylum applications outside of Europe in the future”.
He continued: “That was an important theme in my meeting with the home secretary in Vienna because Austria can benefit from this experience.
“We will continue to make a consistent effort for the EU commission to advance and enable such procedures outside of Europe.”
Home Secretary Suella Braverman at a press conference with Austria’s Interior Minister, Gerhard Karner, in Vienna.
Ms Braverman said that Austria was a “close ally in tackling illegal migration”, adding: “We have already begun sharing knowledge of our actions and strategies such as third country removals.
“This joint statement is a commitment to work more closely together to achieve our aims, and enhance our co-operation on a wide range of security challenges.”
Charity Freedom from Torture, which supports asylum seekers, said the news that the UK and Austrian governments were working together on third-country removals was “deeply disturbing”.
They added: “The UK’s refugee expulsion scheme has essentially become an authoritarian siren song for populist politicians looking for ways to shirk the commitments that states solemnly made in the wake of the Second World War.”
The Supreme Court heard in October that the Home Office was failing to acknowledge problems with the Rwandan asylum system that would make the processing of claims there unlawful. Raza Hussain KC, who represents asylum seekers, told the UK’s highest court that Rwanda’s history of abuse of asylum seekers must be considered when assessing whether it was a safe country to send migrants.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman looks through into Turkey from the north eastern Greek border with Turkey in Alexandroupolis to view surveillance facilities and learn how Greek security forces are monitoring the land border with their Turkish neighbours. The Home secretary is on a two day visit to the region to discuss migration and security.
Sir James Eadie KC, representing the Home Office, argued that Rwanda’s promises to the UK marked “a break with what has occurred in the past”.
He said that “Rwanda knows full well the UK expects compliance” with the terms of the deal, adding that: “The reputational consequences of non-compliance would be very serious for everyone.”
In Vienna, Mrs Braverman spoke to Jewish community leaders, visited the site of 2020’s Islamist terrorist attack and paid her respects at a Holocaust memorial. She has continued on to Greece to discuss migration and security.