Republic of Austria
Head of state: Heinz Fischer
Head of government: Werner Faymann

Chronic neglect of detainees in preventive detention was exposed. Inquiries were ongoing into allegations of excessive use of force by police during demonstrations. Second-partner adoption was made legal for same-sex partners. Protection gaps remained in anti-discrimination legislation. A new humanitarian programme to grant refugee status to 1,000 Syrian nationals was launched. Asylum procedures remained long and the provision of independent legal advice to asylum-seekers was inadequate. Austria ratified the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence and the Arms Trade Treaty.

Prison conditions

Media investigations exposed structural shortcomings in the juvenile prison and preventive detention systems. In May, reports of the neglect of detainees prompted the Minister of Justice to accelerate the planned reform of the preventive detention system for dangerous offenders. Recommendations issued in October 2013 by a taskforce on the detention of juveniles, established by the Ministry of Justice, were gradually being implemented. Also in May, media reports revealed that in Stein prison a 74-year-old man held in preventive detention since 2008 had been gravely neglected for several months, including being left without medical care. Criminal investigations were opened against prison officials and guards.

Police and security forces

In January and May, clashes between police and protesters prompted allegations that police used excessive force to contain demonstrators. An inquiry by the Ombudsman Board was ongoing. In May, the Minister of the Interior told media that police officers could be equipped with body cameras. A group of experts was instructed to look into their use. The Minister reiterated the government's rejection of a compulsory identification system for police officers.


Legal amendments were introduced to allow same-sex couples to adopt each other's biological children, following a European Court of Human Rights judgment in February 2013. In all other circumstances, adoption continued to be denied to same-sex couples.

Despite the government's commitment in the UN Universal Periodic Review follow-up process to fill protection gaps, the Anti-Discrimination Law did not ensure equal protection against all forms of discrimination. Gaps remained in particular as to protection against discrimination on the basis of religion and belief, age and sexual orientation in the access to goods and services.

Refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants

In April, Austria launched a new humanitarian admission programme for 1,000 Syrian refugees from countries neighbouring Syria and committed to granting refugee status to all upon arrival.

The asylum procedure remained long, often lasting several years. The authorities failed to ensure effective and adequate access for all asylum-seekers to independent legal advice throughout the procedure.

Asylum-seekers' access to adequate housing, social benefits and health care remained inadequate. Conditions in some reception centres were reportedly poor and unhygienic and in some cases amounted to degrading treatment.

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