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“Pray for detained migrants” say Church bodies

Thousands of migrants are “unjustly detained in Europe for not having the right documents”, say two European church bodies.

14 October 2008. In a joint statement on Monday, the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME) and the central committee of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) appealed to Christians across Europe to pray for detained migrants and support the work of prison chaplains, according to the Sofia Echo.

"Prison chaplains … face these situations of detainees daily with hardly any possibility to change conditions and offer perspectives,” said the statement.

The CCME and CEC singled out Austria for particular criticism, where the government is under pressure to change its migration policy.

“We ask for human and reasonable policies, which respect the rule of law and human rights, and promote integration instead of preventing it,” said the CCME and CEC.

"Currently decisions on a person’s right to remain on humanitarian grounds can only be taken by the Austrian minister of the interior. This ‘clemency’ has no place in a society based on legal rights.

“In June 2008 the Austrian Constitutional High Court asked for a rights-based procedure. We demand a fair and human rights based regularisation procedure, to which all have the right to apply.”

The CCME and CEC also criticised Austria’s lengthy asylum application procedures.

"Applicants have to wait for years – with the result that hundreds of them begin to put down roots, despite their future remaining insecure. Those who have been in Austria for more than five years should have the right to stay on legally."

They added, “We ask for human and reasonable policies, which respect the rule of law and human rights, and promote integration instead of preventing it.”

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