The Austrian government said Wednesday that it won’t sign a global compact to promote safe and orderly migration, citing concerns about national sovereignty as it joined neighboring Hungary in shunning the agreement.
Conservative Chancellor Sebastian Kurz took office last December in a coalition with the nationalist, anti-migration Freedom Party. Austria currently holds the European Union’s rotating presidency, and Kurz has made curbing unregulated migration a priority.
The Global Compact for Safety, Orderly and Regular Migration, which isn’t legally binding, was finalized under U.N. auspices in July. It is due to be formally approved at a meeting in Marrakech, Morocco, from Dec. 11-12.
The Austria Press Agency reported that Kurz and Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache said Austria won’t sign the document or send an official representative to Marrakech. They cited, among other things, fears about a possible watering-down of the distinction between legal and illegal migration.
“There are some points that we view critically and where we fear a danger to our national sovereignty,” Kurz said.
“Some of the contents go diametrically against our position,” added Strache, the Freedom Party’s leader.
“Migration is not and cannot become a human right,” Strache said. “It cannot be that someone receives a right to migration because of the climate or poverty.”
In September 2016, all 193 U.N. member states, including the United States under President Barack Obama, adopted a declaration saying no country can manage international migration on its own and agreeing to launch a process leading to the adoption of a global compact in 2018.
But last December, the United States said it was ending its participation in negotiations on the compact, stating that numerous provisions were “inconsistent with U.S. immigration and refugee policies” under President Donald Trump.
In July, Hungary said it would withdraw from the process.
Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said then that the pact was contrary to Hungary’s interests because while it had some positive aims, like fighting human trafficking, overall it considered migration an unstoppable and positive phenomenon worthy of support.
The compact has 23 objectives that seek to boost cooperation to manage migration and numerous actions ranging from technical issues like the portability of earnings by migrant workers to reducing the detention of migrants. (By Associated Press)
Petra Laszlo: Hungarian camerawoman who kicked migrants is acquitted
Hungary’s supreme court has acquitted a camerawoman who was filmed tripping and kicking migrants at the border in 2015.
Petra Laszlo had been sentenced to three years’ probation for her actions by a lower court.
But the country’s top court ruled on Tuesday that she should have been charged with a misdemeanour not a criminal offence, and cleared her.
It said that her actions – which attracted international attention – were “morally incorrect and illicit”.
But, it said, with reference to the “disturbance”, her actions were not severe enough to be classed as criminal.
In the incident at the Hungary-Serbia border in September 2015, migrants and refugees had broken through a police barrier.
In footage from the scene, Ms Laszlo appeared to kick a young girl and trip up a father carrying a small boy.
At the time, large numbers of people, many fleeing violence in the Middle East, were trying to reach western Europe via countries such as Hungary.
The camerawoman had been working for the right-wing Hungarian TV channel N1TV, which fired her after the footage went viral.
The father and son seen in the footage later obtained asylum in Spain, where the man was offered work as a football coach.