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Amnesty slams Austria's treatment of prisoners

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Prison officer. Photo: APA/FOHRINGER
12:41 CET+01:00
Amnesty International criticized Austria on Wednesday for allowing the chronic neglect of detainees in preventive detention, and also highlighted a lack of legal advice and inadequate care for asylum seekers.

In its annual report the human rights organization flagged up structural shortcomings in the juvenile prison and preventive detention systems.

In May, reports of the neglect of detainees prompted the Justice Minister to accelerate the planned reform of the preventive detention system for dangerous offenders.

Media reports revealed that in Stein prison a 74-year-old man held in preventive detention since 2008 had been gravely neglected for several months, including being left without medical care.

Amnesty also criticized Austria’s asylum procedure - which often lasts several years. It said that the authorities failed to ensure effective and adequate access for all asylum-seekers to independent legal advice throughout the procedure.

In April, Austria launched a new humanitarian admission programme for 1,000 Syrian refugees from countries neighbouring Syria and committed to granting refugee status to all upon arrival.

Amnesty added that asylum-seekers’ access to adequate housing, social benefits and health care remained inadequate.

Conditions in some reception centres were reportedly poor and unhygienic and in some cases amounted to degrading treatment.

Amnesty also had strong words for Italy's handling of migrants, saying that it had failed “to ensure adequate reception conditions for the high number of seaborne refugees and migrants”.

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Immigration centres across Italy are full, prompting the government to make use of empty buildings such as schools to house newcomers.

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