Annual Report: Austria 2010

Report
May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Austria 2010

View More Research

Head of state Heinz Fischer
Head of government Werner Faymann
Death penalty abolitionist for all crimes
Population 8.4 million
Life expectancy 79.9 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f) 6/5 per 1,000

Allegations of ill-treatment and racism by law enforcement officials continued. The rights of asylum-seekers and migrants were violated and undermined by the authorities.

Racism

Non-white Austrians were more likely to be suspected of crime and ill-treated by police. Complaints of police ill-treatment from members of ethnic minorities were often followed by an inadequate response by both the police force and the judicial system; complaints were not properly investigated, and police officers were seldom prosecuted and lightly sanctioned.

  • Between April and mid-2009 the Viennese police conducted a large-scale operation based on ethnic profiling. In April, in response to a rise in burglaries, law enforcement officials were instructed to carry out searches in the houses of all known people of Georgian and Moldovan origin, without concrete grounds of suspicion, in order to question the residents and to establish whether they possessed stolen goods or burglary tools.

Torture and other ill-treatment

The authorities failed to implement safeguards against torture and other ill-treatment.

  • Torture victim Bakary J., a Gambian citizen, had still not received compensation or any form of rehabilitation. He had been tortured by three police officers in Vienna in 2006 and was still at risk of deportation for residing illegally in the country. On 20 November, the Disciplinary Appeal Commission decided to dismiss from office two police officers involved in the case. A third officer, now retired, lost all pension benefits relating to his public employment.

Police and security forces

Reports of human rights violations and excessive use of force by law enforcement officers continued to be made. The authorities failed to investigate and adequately sentence such cases in line with international standards, leading to a high degree of impunity.