Austria: UNHCR deeply regrets rejected Nigerian asylum seeker's death

Briefing Notes, 7 May 1999

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Kris Janowski to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 7 May 1999, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR deeply regrets the tragic death of Mr. Marcus O, a rejected Nigerian asylum seeker, who died when being deported from Vienna to Nigeria via Sofia. Marcus O had applied for asylum in Austria but was not considered to meet the criteria for refugee status under 1951 Convention.

UNHCR stresses once more that, irrespective of the status of the persons concerned, compulsory return of rejected asylum seekers has to be undertaken in a humane and dignified manner in full respect of their rights. UNHCR welcomes the enquiry that has been launched by the Austrian Government and hopes that it will fully elucidate the circumstances surrounding this tragic case. UNHCR believes that the results of the investigation must lead to a revision of present practices in Austria.