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.
|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|
|1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court||State Party|
|1950 European Convention on Human Rights||State Party|
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: bka.gv.at.
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.