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Human Rights in Austria

Measures to safeguard human rights in Austria on the basis of international human rights conventions

All essential fundamental rights guarantees are part of Federal Constitutional Law. These rights are directly applicable and binding for the legislature, executive and judicature.

The two main statutory sources of fundamental rights are the 1867 Basic Law on the General Rights of Nationals (Staatsgrundgesetz über die allgemeinen Rechte der Staatsbürger) and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms – which has the rank of Austrian Federal Constitutional Law. They both provide for most of the important fundamental civil and political rights, such as the right to life, to liberty and security, to a fair trial, to respect for private and family life, to property, freedom of speech, conscience and religion, freedom of assembly and the prohibition of discrimination.

Furthermore, the Federal Constitutional Law enshrines a number of rights including the principles of equality and of non-discrimination, the right to vote and the right to be elected, various fair trial guarantees and the abolition of the death penalty. Other statutory sources protect, inter alia, the right to data protection, the abolition of racial discrimination, rights of children and other vulnerable groups or the rights of ethnic minorities. Austria has also ratified the main international human rights conventions and protocols.

In addition, since 2012 the Constitutional Court has also used the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights as a benchmark when applying EU law.

Responsibilities

The Constitutional Service of the Federal Chancellery reviews all laws drafted by the federal ministries, also examining them in terms of their compatibility with fundamental and human rights. It is responsible for legal matters in the field of constitutionally guaranteed rights. Finally, it coordinates Austria's position in proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights and independent expert committees established on the basis of international human rights treaties. Moreover, the Constitutional Service deals with constitutional issues of international human rights protection and international humanitarian law.

Finally, issues relating to human rights protection are coordinated here; a key role is played by the human rights coordinators who have been established in all federal ministries since July 1999. These coordinators act as contact points in issues of human rights protection within their ministries as well as, quite generally, vis-à-vis external parties. It does not cover legal advice in individual cases.

Contact

Brigitte Ohms
Federal Chancellery, Legal and Constitutional Service
Ballhausplatz 2, 1010 Vienna
Phone:  +43 1 531 15-20 24 62
Fax: +43 1 531 09-20 24 62
Email: brigitte.ohms@bka.gv.at

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