The aim of the project is to analyse the judicial review system in the Austrian asylum procedure: both the functioning as well as jurisprudence of the Asylum Court and the Constitutional Court are to be assessed as to their conformity with fundamental and human rights standards. More than three years after entry into force of amendments relating to the legal protection of asylum seekers it is to be examined whether the improvements or fears held out in prospect occurred in practice.
Ameliorations promised in the government bill related in particular to the quicker processing of asylum claims, to an increased reduction of the backlog of open procedures and to an easing of the "burden" of the Administrative Court. At the same time the quality of the review procedures should be kept or even improved.
Criticism regarding the amendments which entered into force in July 2008 focused particularly on the reduction of legal protection (e.g. the competence of the Administrative Court, which played an important role in the past with regard to legal protection of asylum seekers, was removed). Further, concerns were voiced relating to the quality of decisions and functioning of the Asylum Court and the low success prospects of complaints at the Constitutional Court. Also the Constitutional Court itself has complained since July 2008 repeatedly about the huge burden of complaints in asylum cases.
The project results (and possible recommendations based thereon) should contribute to the quality assurance in the procedures of the Asylum Court and the Constitutional Court. Thereby the situation of asylum seekers in Austria is to be enhanced.
The eight-month project is divided into three phases:
• Identification of issues subsequently to be examined in more depth, through interviews with different stakeholders active in the field of asylum and through legal analysis of Constitutional Court rulings which quashed Asylum Court decisions.
• Detailed analysis of the Asylum Court’s work (e.g. decisions on whether or not to conduct oral hearings; handling of oral hearings; approach vis-à-vis asylum-seekers and their representatives, duration of procedures, etc.) and of the jurisprudence of the Asylum Court and the Constitutional Court (against international standards).
• Interviews with the Presidents of the two Courts or their representatives and, if possible, with various staff members (both judges and legal support staff) in order to find out the self-image of the Asylum Court and the Constitutional Court as well as to allow them to react on findings made in interviews with other stakeholders.
Margit Ammer, margit.ammer[at]univie.ac.at; Michael Frahm, michael.frahm[at]univie.ac.at