U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Austria
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||5 June 2006|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Austria, 5 June 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4680d875c.html [accessed 20 September 2014]|
Austria (Tier 1)
Austria is a transit and destination country for women from Romania, Bulgaria, Russia, Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, and some African countries trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation. The IOM estimates there are 7,000 foreign victims in Vienna alone. Victims are transited through Austria to Italy, France, and Spain. In 2005, 700 Roma girls from Bulgaria were identified in Vienna; these children were trafficked for purposes of forced petty theft and commercial sexual exploitation.
The Government of Austria fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Austria in January 2006 eliminated a "dancer" visa that had been used to traffic women into the country. The government's Task Force on Trafficking in Human Beings worked to develop a National Action Plan. Although Austria has a commendable record on anti-trafficking efforts, the government should consider strengthening trafficking sentences and ensure that traffickers serve their prescribed time in prison. Police should also devote more resources to combat human trafficking. The government should consider expanding its prevention campaign to include demand reduction programs.
The Austrian Government increased its law enforcement efforts over the reporting period. In 2005, police filed 168 trafficking cases with the public prosecutor. Authorities conducted a total of 192 trafficking prosecutions utilizing several trafficking-related statutes. Conviction data for 2005 was unavailable at the time of this Report; however, Austrian courts in 2004 convicted 49 traffickers, an increase from 11 convictions in 2003. Fourteen traffickers received prison sentences ranging from one to 12 months, seven traffickers received sentences of one to three years, while only two traffickers received sentences of three to five years in prison. Twenty-four traffickers received partially suspended sentences and served an unspecified amount of time in prison. Two traffickers received a fine and served no prison time. The recent prosecution of serial trafficker and former Olympic figure skater Wolfgang Schwartz highlighted serious concerns about Austria's willingness to enforce prescribed prison sentences for convicted traffickers. Schwartz was convicted in 2002 of trafficking women for sexual exploitation, but was never forced to serve his one and one-half year prison sentence. Police launched investigations against clients of a trafficking ring that victimized underage girls; this case remains ongoing and police had made no arrests at the time of this Report. Cooperation between Austrian and Bulgarian law enforcement authorities improved on the matter of child trafficking during the reporting period; in March 2006, two Bulgarian liaison officers were posted to Vienna for one month. Their presence significantly reduced the number of Bulgarian child victims arrested for pick-pocketing, according to Austrian police.
Austria continued to provide a high level of assistance and protection to victims of trafficking over the last year. Victims qualify for temporary residence visas. The government fully funds a key anti-trafficking NGO in Austria; in 2005, the government approved a five-year funding commitment for the NGO that improved the NGO's stability and its ability to plan and execute the delivery of its services. Victims had full access to the Austrian social system.
Austria focused much of its prevention effort in source countries. In September 2005, Austrian embassies and consulates in Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine began issuing special information about the dangers of forced prostitution to women who applied for visas and declared their intention to work as exotic dancers or in a similar profession considered at-risk for trafficking. These embassies and consulates also now require these women to apply for visas in person in order to exercise more control over such potential victim cases. The city of Vienna subsidized five projects in Moldova, Hungary, Albania, Macedonia, and Bulgaria.