Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 July 2014, 15:15 GMT

Amnesty International Annual Report 2011 - Austria

Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 13 May 2011
Cite as Amnesty International, Amnesty International Annual Report 2011 - Austria, 13 May 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4dce1581c.html [accessed 31 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Head of state: Heinz Fischer
Head of government: Werner Faymann
Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes
Population: 8.4 million
Life expectancy: 80.4 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f): 6/5 per 1,000

Allegations of police ill-treatment, including racially motivated abuses, continued. Asylum seekers were forcibly returned to Greece under the Dublin II Regulation.

Racism

Reports of racially motivated police misconduct towards foreign nationals and ethnic minorities continued. Structural shortcomings within the criminal justice system when responding to discrimination, such as the failure to promptly and thoroughly investigate allegations of racially motivated ill-treatment and excessive use of force, and the absence of a comprehensive and coherent system to record incidents of racist misconduct, were not adequately addressed.

Torture and other ill-treatment

In May 2010, the UN Committee against Torture reiterated its concerns regarding the absence of the crime of torture in Austria's Criminal Code, the high level of impunity for abuses by police and the lenient sentences imposed by courts in cases of torture or other ill-treatment.

  • The European Court of Human Rights began to examine the complaint of Gambian national Bakary J., alleging that his expulsion from Austria would result in a violation of his right to family life and his right not to be ill-treated. Bakary J., who was tortured by four police officers in 2006 following an unsuccessful deportation, has yet to receive reparation. The officers received suspended sentences of less than one year in August 2006.

  • In November, proceedings against a police officer charged with grievous bodily harm continued before the Regional Criminal Court in Vienna. US citizen Mike B., an African-American teacher, was injured by an undercover policeman on 11 February 2009 in an underground station in Vienna.

Police and security forces

At the Vienna Regional Criminal Court in November, the trial began of the individuals accused of killing Chechen refugee Umar Israilov on 13 January 2009. The proceedings to determine if the police failed to provide protection to Umar Israilov upon the request of his lawyer were pending before the Independent Administrative Tribunal.

Migrants' and asylum-seekers' rights

Austria continued to transfer asylum-seekers to Greece under the Dublin II Regulation, despite the lack of a functioning asylum system there. In some cases, such transfers were stopped by interim measures of the European Court of Human Rights. In November, the Court sent a letter to the government asking it to stop transfers to Greece but the authorities decided to maintain the practice of individual assessment of each case.

  • On 19 July, Reza H., an Afghan asylum-seeker who had alleged that he was 16 years old, died following a suicide attempt carried out during his detention at the Police Detention Centre in Hernals, Vienna, pending his transfer back to Sweden. During the interview by the Federal Asylum Office held in May, Reza H. stated repeatedly that he had been raped while in a hostel for asylum-seekers in Sweden, where he had previously sought asylum. Despite this, he was detained without the provision of psychological counselling. Inquiries were initiated by the Austrian Ombudsperson's Office and the Ministry of Interior.

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