Constitutional Provisions

The centrepiece of Austria's constitution is the Bundes-Verfassungsgesetz (Federal Constitutional Law), although it is supplemented by a number of other constitutional acts.

The Federal government is responsible for the organisation and control of the federal police and other security forces but not local law enforcement agencies.Art. 10(14), Federal Constitutional Law.The use of weapons is also regulated on a federal level.Art. 10(14), Federal Constitutional Law.

Treaty Adherence

Global Treaties

Adherence to Selected Human Rights Treaties
1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) State Party
ICCPR Optional Protocol 1 State Party
1984 Convention against Torture (CAT) State Party
Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints Yes
CAT Optional Protocol 1 State Party
Adherence to International Criminal Law Treaties
1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court State Party

Regional Treaties

Adherence to Regional Human Rights Treaties
1950 European Convention on Human Rights State Party

National Legislation

Police Use of Force

The Federal Police (Bundespolizei) is the main federal law enforcement agency of Austria. There are also municipal police forces.

Under the 1991 Administrative Penal Act, arrest and detention shall be carried out with respect for human dignity and the most considerate treatment possible of the person.§36(2), 1991 Administrative Penal Act.

A 1969 law (as amended) governs police use of firearms. It is considerably more permissive than international law allows, as it expressly permits the use of a firearm to overcome resistance to the a legitimate act of an officer, to enforce a lawful arrest, and to prevent the escape of a lawfully detained person.S. 2(2), (3), and (4), Law on the use of weapons (1969), version as of 14 April 2021 (RIS - Waffengebrauchsgesetz 1969 - Bundesrecht konsolidiert, Fassung vom 14.04.2021), at: 

Police Oversight

The Austrian National Ombudsman Board (AOB) examines the use of force by the state, particularly during deportations and demonstrations.Established by Chapter VIII (Art. 148(a)-(j), Federal Constitution and the 1982 Federal Law on the Austrian Ombudsman Board (Volkanwaltschaftsgesetz, 1982). 



Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies

In its 2015 Concluding Observations on Austria, the Human Rights Committee expressed its concern at

the low number of criminal convictions for the perpetrators of ill-treatment of detainees in police custody compared with the relatively high number of allegations. The Committee also remains concerned about the leniency of the sentences imposed in cases of ill-treatment of detainees by law enforcement officials....Human Rights Committee, Concluding Observations on Austria, UN doc. CCPR/C/AUT/CO/5, 3 December 2015, para. 21. 


Palushi  v. Austria (2009)

In its judgment, the European Court of Human Rights found that the applicant had been ill-treated while in police custody. It stated that it

considers that the treatment to which the applicant was subjected, namely the stabbing behind his ears and the manner in which he was carried to the individual cell, such that his back dragged along the edges of the steps, causing skin abrasions of a considerable size, must have caused him physical and mental pain and suffering. In addition, the acts complained of were such as to arouse in the applicant feelings of fear, anguish and inferiority capable of debasing him and possibly breaking his physical and moral resistance. The Court finds elements which are sufficiently serious for the treatment to which the applicant was subjected to be considered inhuman and degrading....Palushi v. Austria, 2009, para. 64.


Austrian Federal Constitution Law

1991 Administrative Penal Act

1999 Security Police Act (German original)

Waffengebrauchsgesetz (1969)

Human Rights Committee Concluding observations on Austria (2015)

Committee against Torture Concluding observations on Austria (2016)

European Court of Human Rights Ribitsch v. Austria (1995)

European Court of Human Rights Palushi v. Austria (2009)