Amnesty International Report 2006 - Austria
|Publication Date||23 May 2006|
|Cite as||Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2006 - Austria, 23 May 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/447ff79e37.html [accessed 10 December 2013]|
There were allegations of ill-treatment by police. Austria failed to comply with a ruling by the UN Human Rights Committee. New laws on asylum and police powers contravened human rights standards and could threaten the work of human rights defenders. Overcrowding in prisons continued to worsen.
Allegations of police ill-treatment
There were continuing allegations of ill-treatment and harassment by police, particularly of foreign nationals.
- In July, the trial opened of six police officers, three paramedics and a doctor charged with involuntary manslaughter under especially dangerous conditions in connection with the death in July 2003 of Mauritanian citizen Cheibani Wague in Vienna. In November, the Higher Criminal Court in Vienna sentenced the doctor and one police officer to suspended seven-month prison terms; the other defendants were acquitted. AI had repeatedly expressed concern about the circumstances surrounding the death of Cheibani Wague while being restrained by police officers and paramedics, and at what appeared to be substantial failures to conduct a prompt, independent and impartial investigation aimed at bringing those responsible to justice. Evidence produced in the trial also highlighted deficiencies within the police training system with regard to restraint methods.
- In March, the Independent Administrative Tribunal concluded that the arrest, detention and beating of a young man by police in Vienna on 13 August 2004 was unlawful.
- During a stop-and-search police operation against a family from Ghana in Ansfelden, in July, a woman, Mrs A., was arrested, taken to a police station and strip-searched, apparently without any legal basis. The police officers involved have not reportedly faced any criminal investigation.
Compliance with international human rights law
In violation of the requirement to ensure an effective remedy to people whose rights under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) have been violated, the authorities refused to pay compensation to Paul Perterer, who was denied his right to a fair hearing when he was dismissed from the civil service. On 20 August 2004, the UN Human Rights Committee concluded that Austria had violated Paul Perterer's right to a fair hearing and recommended that the authorities ensure him an effective remedy, including compensation. Austria argued that neither the ICCPR (to which Austria is a state party) nor the views of the Human Rights Committee have any effect in domestic law.
In September, the Vienna Court of Appeal confirmed a previous court decision allowing the extradition of Muhammad 'Abd al-Rahmin Bilasi-Ashri to Egypt on the basis of diplomatic assurances. Bilasi-Ashri would be at serious risk of torture and other serious human rights violations if returned to Egypt. On 18 November, the European Court of Human Rights issued an interim measure not to extradite Bilasi-Ashri.
New laws on asylum and foreign nationals
Several provisions in the new Asylum Act and the Aliens Police Act contravened international refugee and human rights standards. A provision penalizing people who "abet" "unauthorized habitation" could result in persecution of human rights defenders who represent asylum-seekers.
The Ministry of Justice failed to address deficiencies in the prison system. Prisons continued to be overcrowded, and conditions were aggravated by an increasing number of mentally ill inmates and a decrease in staff. Sixty taser guns were in use in judicial institutions as of July.
Despite amendments, long-standing loopholes remained in the Law on War Material, allowing surplus weapons to be transferred to countries where they might be misused for human rights violations.