Two Afghan sisters who lost an asylum case at the European Court of Justice in July 2017 were deported from Austria, BBC reports. Austrian authorities deported the sisters at midday on March 13 to a camp in Zagreb, Croatia.
Khadija and Zainab Jafari and their three children arrived in Austria in August 2016 but were refused asylum, as Austrian authorities decided that they should be sent back to Croatia, their country of entry into the EU.
The sisters took their case to the European Court of Justice, which ruled in July 2017 that the Austrian authorities had the power to deport the sisters under the Dublin Regulation, arguing that refugees who leave their countries must seek asylum in the first EU state they reach. The decision held that the sisters were not entitled to enter other EU countries and should have sought asylum in Croatia instead, according to the Telegraph.
Upon its inception, the ruling brought into doubt the futures of hundreds who arrived in Austria during the 2015-2016 migrant crisis.
According to the Washington Post, despite the ruling, the European Court of Justice did mention that EU countries were entirely permitted to show a “spirit of solidarity” by reviewing asylum applications even if it is not required.
Christoph Riedl, a policy adviser with humanitarian aid group Diakonie, asked Austria to allow the sisters to remain, says the Washington Post. “Austria should simply have shown some heart and solidarity as the European Court of Justice demanded in its ruling,” Riedl said.
The deportation has received substantial backlash from aid agencies and charities, BBC reports. “We would have wished that Austria would send a positive signal and carry out the asylum procedure itself,” the Diakonie charity stated, arguing that “the case of the Jafari sisters and their children would have been an ideal case for the spirit of European solidarity.”