Commentary A reaction to two recent murders

Austrian government plans curfew for refugees

The Austrian government is preparing another controversial regulation for asylum seekers. Their stay in facilities for refugees as well as in private apartments should be subject to the same restrictions which apply to spas or barracks.

Austria introduced a curfew for asylum seekers between 10pm and 6an in reaction to two recent murders. In both cases suspects are young Afghan men and both murders happened at night. The FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache said that the curfew is supposed to prevent riots, roamers, and an excessive consumption of alcohol.

Originally, the Interior Minister Herbert Kickl of the FPÖ, called for a curfew starting at 8pm. After a backlash from human rights defenders, Kickl rephrased it as a measure which ‘requires their presence at home’. Therefore, it is no longer a restriction on freedom of movement but rather a set of house rules. While restrictions on freedom are intolerable, it is possible and relevant to impose certain rules, said the Chancellor Sebastian Kurz

Kickl is now looking into options for how to legally require refugees and asylum seekers to stay at home during the night time. Which could be a challenging task given that many asylum seekers stay at privately owned apartments and dorms. To be able to effectively enforce the curfew, authorities would have to check people on the streets and take actions against those violating it.

However, such actions could be unconstitutional and breach human rights and freedoms. Some shelters in Austria already impose house rules prohibiting those to be out after 10pm and also visits are not allowed during night time. 

Last week, a 17-year-old Afghan stabbed to death a one-year younger Austrian girl in Steyer, Upper Austria. Earlier in November, a 24-year-old Afghan is suspected of killing another man in Innsbruck.

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