U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Austria
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||14 June 2004|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Austria, 14 June 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4680d8047c.html [accessed 1 March 2015]|
Austria (Tier 1)
Austria is a transit and destination country primarily for women trafficked to Austria from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, particularly Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova and Ukraine, for the purpose of sexual exploitation. The final destinations for most victims transiting through Austria are other European Union (EU) countries. Austrian police continued to notice increased trafficking of Romanian boys and Bulgarian girls to engage in begging, stealing, and possible sexual exploitation. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Task Force on Trafficking estimates 4,000 victims of trafficking in Vienna alone.
The Government of Austria fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government was particularly strong in mounting cooperative efforts with authorities from other countries, at both national and sub-national levels, to facilitate the investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases. Austrian authorities should take steps to ensure that convicted traffickers receive heavier sentences.
Austria expanded efforts to punish trafficking in persons in 2003. Several articles in the criminal code specifically prohibit trafficking and trafficking-related situations and impose sufficiently severe penalties. In February 2004, the Austrian parliament adopted an amendment to article 217 of the criminal code that expands the definition of trafficking to include exploitation of labor and the trafficking of organs. Under article 217, the key provision for the prosecution of traffickers, the government prosecuted 223 cases. The most recent conviction statistics, from 2002, indicate that the government filed 70 cases against suspected traffickers under this article, with 27 convictions. Seventeen of these persons spent some time in prison, with the majority serving a year or less. Prosecutors often rely on other provisions that criminalize alien smuggling, due to the difficulty of proving unlawful coercion and deception. Austrian authorities reported 744 prosecutions initiated in 2003 for alien smuggling crimes, some of which may involve suspected traffickers. The Interior Ministry's Federal Bureau of Criminal Affairs has a division dedicated solely to combating human trafficking. Four Austrian judges specialize in trafficking cases. Austrian law enforcement officials have established contacts with authorities in countries of origin to facilitate the prosecution of suspected traffickers. Because of a rise in trafficked victims from Romania, Austrian police have improved their liaison with Romanian counterparts. The government supports and funds NGO and government sensitivity training for police and other public authorities in Austria and in other countries. In April 2003, the government helped fund the first judicial training program for Stability Pact countries.
The Austrian Government continues strong efforts to protect victims of trafficking. The government funds NGOs that provide shelter, legal assistance, and health services to trafficking victims. Victims also have direct access to government-funded services, including women's shelters, located in each province. The Austrian Government commendably provides temporary resident status for trafficked victims. Officials have authority to delay repatriation proceedings pending completion of a court case. Victims of trafficking also have the opportunity to gain permanent residency in Austria. The Austrian Eastern European Cooperation, which forms part of the Austrian Development Assistance Organization, gave 1.7 million Euros to a women's shelter in Belgrade in 2003.
The government worked actively with international and regional organizations (EU, Interpol, OSCE, and UN) and an NGO to carry out preventive programs domestically and throughout the region. The Ministry of Interior developed a new database to assist in tracking victims and perpetrators of trafficking. The Foreign Ministry developed and distributed information packets on trafficking for use in Austrian embassies and consulates in Eastern Europe.