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Sat, Dec

Austria builds border centre despite criticism

Austria says it has begun work to tighten immigration controls at a key north-south European crossing point.

 

Police said concrete was poured last Tuesday as building commenced of a control centre at the Brenner crossing on the border with Italy in the Alps.

Reports say it is the latest in a series of hardline steps taken by Austria to clamp down on migration.

But the EU, Germany and Italy, as well as refugee agencies, have criticised the measures.

Aid groups say the steps effectively mean decisions on asylum will be made within minutes or hours at border centres.

They say that means asylum seekers could then be refused entry to the country - breaching both European law and the Austrian constitution, and encouraging migrants to turn to human traffickers.

Austria has become known for its strict stance on migration, including introducing border fences and controls and tough asylum rules including a cap on numbers claiming asylum.

Last year, it became a major transit country for migrants seeking to claim asylum in Germany and correspondents say the influx has contributed to the popularity of the far right, raising tensions within the governing coalition.