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Austria postpones deportation of Afghan man after European Court of Human Rights ruling

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A hearing at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, eastern France, Nov.15, 2018.
A hearing at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, eastern France, Nov.15, 2018.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias

Austrian authorities took note on Tuesday of a decision by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to postpone the deportation of an Afghan man as the "security situation" in the country deteriorates.

"The interior ministry is aware of this provisional injunction," it said in a statement sent to AFP, while stressing that it "concerned a specific individual case" and "had no direct impact" on the "general" policy of deportations to Afghanistan.

In a letter sent to the Austrian government on Monday and posted on Twitter by an NGO on Tuesday, the ECHR wrote that "the applicant should not be expelled from Austria before 31 August".

The complainant, an Afghan national who wishes to remain anonymous, is challenging the expulsion order against him, according to the letter.

The ECHR considers that an expulsion under the current conditions could constitute a violation by Vienna of the European Convention on Human Rights.

It asks Austria to assess whether "there is a clear risk of irreparable harm to the complainant if he is deported as planned on 3 August".

The ministry assured that no such action was planned for Tuesday.

Afghanistan had in July urged Europe to stop deportations for three months, as Finland, Sweden and Norway had done.

The European Court's decision "shows how burning the issue is in terms of human rights and how critical the situation on the ground is," the Pro Asyl NGO reacted in a statement.

Afghans made up 10.6% of asylum seekers in the European Union last year, the second-largest contingent behind Syrians (15.2%), according to EU statistics agency Eurostat.

Thirty NGOs have called on EU countries to suspend deportations as fighting intensifies against the backdrop of a Taliban insurgent offensive, with the withdrawal of international forces scheduled to end in August.

In Austria, the conservative government of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz nevertheless wants to continue to send back Afghans denied asylum and the debate has intensified after the murder in June of a 13-year-old girl, attributed to Afghan asylum seekers.