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COMMITTEE ON ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES CONSIDERS REPORT OF AUSTRIA

24 May 2018

The Committee on Enforced Disappearances today concluded its consideration of the initial report of Austria on its implementation of the provisions of the International Convention on the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

Introducing the report, Helmut Tichy, Ambassador and Legal Advisor, Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs of Austria, said Austria took its obligations under human rights treaties seriously and appreciated the regular dialogue with the United Nations treaty bodies. It was committed to the proper implementation of the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance. When Austria had ratified the Convention in June 2012, it had also recognized the competence of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances to receive and consider individual and inter-State complaints. The Convention’s entry into force had been accompanied by a series of changes in Austrian national law, including the Criminal Code where a new offence, namely “enforced disappearance of a person”, had been introduced in 2015. This provision stipulated that any person who kidnapped or otherwise deprived another of their personal liberty on behalf of or with the acquiescence of a State or a political organization and concealed the fate or whereabouts of the missing person was liable to imprisonment between one and 10 years, and, in the case of abuse of an official position, of up to 15 years. Additionally, a new section had been inserted into the Code which – inter alia – criminalized enforced disappearances committed as a part of a widespread or systematic attack against any civilian population as a crime against humanity.

In the ensuing discussion, Experts inquired about the precedence of the treaties above the national legislation and expressed concern as to why the National Human Rights Institution did not have A status under the Paris Principles. They also expressed concern regarding the time limit of 10 years as a period of limitation of the penalty for the crime of enforced disappearance, which they deemed too low. They inquired about the rights of asylum seekers, detainees, and persons detained in so-called forensic institutions or units for mental or psychiatric illnesses. They placed a great emphasis on the importance of the principle of non-refoulement, and in this regard, worried whether the State party’s list of safe-countries fully guaranteed the right of asylum seekers. They also stressed the importance of the prompt and regular registration of detainees, noting that the lack thereof could mean that an enforced disappearance was not registered. Experts also requested more detailed information on the provisions related to compensation and reparations for victims, the so-called baby-box law, and the provisions in the Criminal Code that were intended to protect the rights of the child and their harmonisation with article 16 under the Convention.

In concluding remarks, Suela Janina, Committee Expert and Co-Rapporteur for Austria, conveyed her gratitude and praise to Austria for its continuous engagement throughout the entire reporting process, starting with the presentation of the report, the replies to the issues, and the activities in the country in order to give full effect to the provisions under the Convention.

Mr. Tichy, in his final remarks, thanked the Committee for the intensive dialogue, and assured it that he would inform the Advisory Council of the Ombudsman Board of the dialogue and distribute the conclusions and recommendations thereof. In an effort to help raise awareness of the Convention, he informed that he would report on the dialogue during an upcoming regional meeting of international lawyers in Austria.

Rainer Huhle, Committee Expert and Vice-Chair, in conclusion, noted that it was very important that Austria took the Convention so seriously. He informed that the picture of ratifications thereof in Europe was not very positive and in this regard, it was important for countries such as Austria to lobby for the ratification of this Convention.

The delegation of Austria included representatives of the Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs of Austria, the Federal Ministry of Constitutional Affairs, Reforms, Deregulation and Justice, the Federal Ministry of Interior, and the Permanent Mission of Austria to the United Nations Office at Geneva.


The Committee will next meet in public at 3 p.m. this afternoon to begin its consideration of the initial report of Albania (CED/C/ALB/1).


Report

The initial report of Austria can be read here: (CED/C/AUT/1).

Presentation of the Report

HELMUT TICHY, Ambassador and Legal Advisor, Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs of Austria, said Austria took its obligations under human rights treaties seriously and appreciated the regular dialogue with the United Nations treaty bodies. It was committed to the proper implementation of the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance. Austria’s own history had shown how quickly a regime lacking respect for human rights could take control of a society and how important structural international safeguards against all kinds of human rights violations were. Austria had on numerous occasions demonstrated its commitment that the crimes perpetrated at the time of Nazism, including by Austrians, should never be repeated. Since the end of the Second World War, Austria had become a strong proponent of the international rule of law. It was in line with this commitment that Vienna currently hosted the International Conference on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the World Conference on Human Rights, which had been held in Vienna in 1993. This conference had affirmed the universality and indivisibility of human rights and had led to the establishment of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the adoption of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.

The Austrian report on the implementation of the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance was the result of several rounds of consultations with numerous stakeholders. When Austria had ratified the Convention in June 2012, it had also recognized the competence of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances to receive and consider individual and inter-state complaints. The Convention’s entry into force had been accompanied by a series of changes in Austrian national law, including the Criminal Code where a new offence, namely “enforced disappearance of a person”, had been introduced in 2015. This provision stipulated that any person who kidnapped or otherwise deprived another of their personal liberty on behalf of or with the acquiescence of a State or a political organization and concealed the fate or whereabouts of the missing person was liable to imprisonment between one and 10 years, and, in the case of abuse of an official position, of up to 15 years. One investigation under this provision had already been conducted, in relation to an alleged attempt of an enforced disappearance in Syria [It was later clarified that the attempt had been in Iraq and not Syria]. Additionally, a new section had been inserted into the Code which – inter alia – criminalized enforced disappearances committed as a part of a widespread or systematic attack against any civilian population as a crime against humanity.

In autumn of 2015, Austria had been confronted with an unprecedented influx of tens of thousands of refugees and migrants, which, for a country of eight million inhabitants had been a serious challenge. The Austrian Government, with the support of many Austrian aid organizations and civil society volunteers, had made every effort to cope with these new challenges. A good part of the migrants were unaccompanied minors in need of special care and attention. The sheer number of people, often travelling without travel documents, had made it difficult to identify individual migrants and trace them after registration. In this context, in September 2017, the United Nations Children’s Fund had organised a training course on child protection and children’s rights for all executive bodies of the federal care institutions run by the Federal Ministry of Interior, with the aim of raising awareness about the need for special protection for unaccompanied minor asylum seekers.

Questions from the Committee Experts

DANIEL FIGALLO RIVADENEYRA, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for Austria, warmly welcomed the delegation and thanked it for the specific responses. Referring to the drafting of the report, he asked specifically how all the stakeholders had been included in its drafting.

Was there any precedence of international treaties being placed above the national legislation and was there jurisprudence on this?

What measures were undertaken to ensure that the National Human Rights Institution was in line with the Paris Principles?

Did the law related to terrorism have incident over the application of the provisions of the Convention?

What recognition had been given to enforced disappearance at the hands of the State?

SUELA JANINA, Committee Expert and Co-Rapporteur for Austria, welcomed the delegation, noting that the Committee had been impressed by the clarity and specificity of the report and the replies to the list of issues.

Did the legislation provide for the definition of the continuous crime of enforced disappearance?

As to the time limit of 10 years as a period of limitation of the penalty, the Expert was of the opinion that 10 years were not enough. In which cases could the judge extend the period of limitation over 10 years?

The Expert wished to know the details and facts of the inquiry that the State party had started in Syria.

How did Austria cooperate with other European Union countries with regard to executing legislation related to enforced disappearances?

Was the family member of a person subjected to enforced disappearance included in the witness protection programme? What was the legal position of families of victims?

What procedure was in place to ensure the impartiality of investigations? Who was in charge of taking over all the information in the case of a conflict of interest by an official or a unit?

How many persons had been accused of ill-treatment and what was the outcome of these claims?

Could the delegation explain what was meant by extradition asylum under the legislation of the State party?

Another Expert asked under what provision of the Convention had the inquiry in the case in Syria been undertaken.

An Expert asked whether political parties could be regarded as political organizations by the definition in the provisions in the Criminal Code relating to enforced disappearance.

What authority monitored the protection of personal data?

What were the criteria on the admissibility? In particular, was a person’s risk of being extradited considered when he/she was considered for admissibility?

Another Expert asked whether any debate or discussion had been held on the clarity of parts of the Convention that were not directly applicable.

Responses by the Delegation

On the involvement of civil society in the preparation of the report, the delegation informed that there was close contact between non-governmental organizations and the Government. However very detailed collaboration on the drafting of the report had not occurred, as enforced disappearances were not a major problem in Austria.

On the status of the Convention, the hierarchy of norms was such that treaties had the same status as laws in Austria. This meant that it was possible that a law could be in contradiction with the treaty, in which case this would be a violation of Austria’s international obligations. This contradiction was thus avoided. Treaties could be directly applicable if sufficiently precise. Wherever there was imprecision in international treaties, a clarification of these were inserted in the Criminal Code. This had precisely been done for the crime of torture, as well as the crimes defined under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

The Ombudsman Board, which served as Austria’s National Human Rights Institution, had B status under the Paris Principles. The reason was the composition of the members, who were nominated by the three biggest political parties, and then elected by Parliament.

Article 18 regarding the emergency powers under the Austrian Constitution had never been invoked. Austria had had cases of terrorism and these had been addressed under the normal Criminal Code. The emergency powers provisions had not been invoked.

The crime of enforced disappearance was sanctioned with a penalty up to 10 years. If the offence was committed by a State official who was abusing an opportunity provided to him/her in his/her official capacity, the penalty was up to 15 years. If it was a crime against humanity, the penalty was five to 15 years.

Austrian jurisdiction for offences in a foreign country that were punishable irrespective of the laws of the place where they occurred was regulated under Section 64 of the Criminal Code. Double criminality was not required.  Austria had jurisdiction i.a. if the perpetrator or the victim were Austrian, or if the perpetrator at the time of the offense was a foreign national who either was a resident of Austria or was present in Austria and could not be extradited.

In 2017, an investigation had been started because of an alleged attempt of an enforced disappearance of a person in Iraq, not Syria, in 2015. However, in the end, this case had been closed due to lack of evidence.

Regarding the protection of family members, in some circumstances these could be considered as victims of the case.

There were strict rules to ensure against conflict of interest and guarantee the impartiality of the criminal police, prosecutors and judges, whereby a judgement could be annulled if there was conflict of interest of a judge. The question of possible bias had to be examined in each and every individual case, depending on the circumstances, including the size of the unit/organization, it was possible that the entire unit was considered biased.

Follow-up Questions by the Experts

DANIEL FIGALLO RIVADENEYRA, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for Austria, stated that it was crucial to streamline and harmonize criminal legislation with the provisions of the Convention. What provisions were in place for the provisions that did not have criminal content? Which of these could be directly invoked?

On the issue of impartiality of the Ombudsman’s Board, the problem was not due to the appointment by Parliament, which was the case in most countries; rather the problem was that the members were being nominated by the parties from among the party membership.

Referring to the inderogability of the Convention, the Expert reminded that article 1.2 of the Convention was very precise in this regard and provided that no state of war or other exceptional circumstances could be invoked as a justification for enforced disappearance. To what extent was the State party taking action to ensure that the national legislation was harmonized with this particular provision of the Convention?

On the question of impartiality, what were the internal mechanisms in place regarding the work of the Department of Criminal Investigations?

SUELA JANINA, Committee Expert and Co-Rapporteur for Austria, asked how the issue of applicability of the Convention was treated by the judges themselves, if the national law did not provide a direct link with these provisions.

Regarding the Ombudsman Board, what were the effects of the recommendations? How did the Ombudsman Board follow-up on their recommendations?

As for penalties, how did a judge decide whether the element of 10 years could be extended or not?

If double criminality was not applied, could the delegation clarify the information they had provided on Austrian jurisdiction?

Regarding the case in Iraq, had the Austrian Government asked the Iraqi Government for information? Having in mind that Iraq was a State party to the Convention, had a request for mutual legal assistance been used?

An Expert regretted that there was a lower level of protection provided to victims of enforced disappearances than the level provided for under the provisions of the Convention.

Another Expert asked whether the other institutions, such as the National Preventative Mechanism, had been involved in the discussions.

An Expert asked the delegation to provide an example of a case in which the Convention had been directly applied.

Another Expert explained the importance of the element of the continuing crime of enforced disappearance.

Replies by the Delegation

On the issue of direct applicability, there had been no inter-agency study on which articles of the Convention were directly applicable or not. An argument could be made that article 1.2 of the Convention could be a directly applicable self-executing provision. The same could be said of article 13, but it all had to be seen in context. There was thus no need for a specific national provision.

The recommendations of the Ombudsman Board were discussed with other government bodies and public institutions. Party membership was a political right in Austria. If judges had the right to be members of political parties, why could Ombudsman Board Members not be political party members?

The International Ombudsman Institutions Organization was seated in Vienna, where the Austrian Ombudsman Board was very active.

The delegation assured the Committee that they would share the recommendations of the Committee with the Ombudsman Board and with non-governmental organizations.

There were clear rules on the issue of impartiality. When an official or a member of his/her family was involved himself or herself, or if there were other reasons which qualified for doubting his/her full impartiality, he/she had to step back. If an investigation was closed, the victim could file a request for its continuation.  If an entire unit was not impartial, the case was transferred to another unit.

On the protection of witnesses or members of the family of a victim, the Security Police Act allowed for the monitoring of people if there was any suspicion of a threat to their lives.

Regarding the principle of non-refoulement, no one may be extradited, if in the country they were being sent, they incurred a danger based on the Geneva Convention.

Double criminality was not required for establishing Austrian jurisdiction in the case of enforced disappearances. As soon as it was established that Austria had jurisdiction, Austrian national legislation applied.

Questions from the Committee Experts

DANIEL FIGALLO RIVADENEYRA, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for Austria,
asked the delegation to provide more information on the mechanisms or protocols that assess the risks related to the return of a person to his country of origin, including the risk of enforced disappearance.

The Expert also asked for further information on the safeguards that existed to guarantee the right to defence from the onset of a person’s deprivation of liberty. Did individuals who were detained have access to free legal aid? If so, what was the procedure for obtaining it?

The Expert noted that there was a lack of registration of detention. How were these cases dealt with? What ramifications had there been for the individuals where delay in registration had been revealed?

He noted that Austria had reported there was no capacity building and training for persons dealing with enforced disappearance, including for those involved in the implementation of the law and those involved in the custody process. Did it intend to conduct training in this regard?

SUELA JANINA, Committee Expert and Co-Rapporteur for Austria, reminded that the Convention provided for a broad definition for a victim, which included members of the family as well as any other individual that suffered harm due to this criminal act of enforced disappearance.

The Expert expressed concern regarding the definition of the victim under the Criminal Code of Austria, which stated that “each person who could have been exposed or in danger due to an intentional criminal offence was considered a victim.” The word “intentional,” she worried, unnecessarily narrowed the scope of the victim. She asked for a clarification on this as well as on the definition of “damage.”

Were all forms of reparations provided for by the State party under the law, including rehabilitation, restitution, satisfaction, and guarantees of non-repetition? Were prompt, fair and adequate reparations guaranteed?

How was the criminal code linked with civil claims?

As to the legal definition of restitution, what kind of assistance could be provided to the families of victims of enforced disappearance?

Was any kind of support provided for children victims of enforced disappearance? In regard to this category of victims, did Austria feel it needed to amend its legislation with regard to article 25 of the Convention? How did Austria react to adoption under the same article? How was the best interest of the child taken into account in these cases?

Another Expert asked whether there was an urgent State compensation fund, to assist in criminal proceedings decisions for reparation.

Responses by the Delegation

Referring to extradition, there were five elements which guaranteed that no extradition would be forced upon persons who could be in danger in the country where they would be extradited. These protective measures also applied for persons who entered the country illegally but did not seek asylum. Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which was at the level of the Constitution in Austria, guarded against torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. If an officer did not register an asylum seeker, this was considered an infringement liable to punishment under the law, as a result of which the officer could lose their job.

On legal representation during custody, any person who was arrested for any reason had two rights – the right to privacy and the right to an immediate telephone call to a service of lawyers, which operated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. More representation during the legal round was not automatically granted.

Unaccompanied minor asylum seekers under 18 years of age were obliged to have a legal counsel, which, according to recent amendments to the law, would also act as a representative of the minor.

As to capacity building and training for public officials and police, these officials had additional mandatory training specific to asylum procedures. Police officers had two years of training. In 2017, the old training system had been amended in order to include the topic of human rights in all subjects and not as an isolated subject. All training sessions were video-taped and analysed based on a model of human rights, with regard to, for example, the proportionality of the measures undertaken by the police officers. In 2015, with the rapid arrival of refugees, capacity building had been enhanced, including with an increase in staff, institutions and training.

There were special procedures in place on children who had disappeared. If the child was found by the authorities, they were kept in a safe place under the authority of the police, and the parents were contacted immediately.

As to children victims of enforced disappearance, these were provided with care from psychologists and psychotherapists specialised for children and minors. Crisis measures were also available and put to use during exceptionally traumatic experiences such as car accidents.

Regarding the criminalization of officials who had a duty to report on an enforced disappearance, but who refused to provide the information, , criminalization depended on whether or not the offence or criminal conduct had ceased. Since the concealment of the whereabouts of the missing persons was part of the objective elements of the crime, the person refusing to provide the information could be an immediate perpetrator of the crime. If this was not the case, the conduct could be qualified as participation by aiding and abiding to the offense according to Section 12 CC.  If there was no liability for the offense of enforced disapearance. e.g. because the criminal conduct had already ceased, failing to report could qualify as the offense of missue of official authority according to Section 302 CC.

If the enforced disappearance constituted a crime against humanity, there were specific provisions regarding superiors.

In 2016, almost 500 cases had been reported on accusations of maltreatment by public officers. Only about 20 of these cases had resulted in an indictment. A vast majority of these cases were related to minor injuries, due to handcuffs and pepper spray.

The European arrest warrant was issued by the judicial authorities of one of the European Union countries and was valid on the entire territory of the European Union, it had been operational since 2004. It had strict time limits. One of its advantages was that the double criminality check was not required, including for enforced disappearances.

The term “extradition asylum” referred to article 13 paragraph 7 of the Convention. The Mutual Assistance Act of Austria stipulated that extradition was inadmissible if there was reason to suspect that the person to be extradited would be subjected to prosecution based on nationality, race, political opinions, or other similar reasons. An extradition t was considered inadmissible also if the rights of the person to be extradited would be violated under the European Convention on Human Rights and notably, article 3 on the prohibition of torture and article 6 on the right to a fair trial.

There had been no request for mutual legal assistance to Iraq. This case had been closed very quickly.

On free legal aid, according to the law, any person in pre-trial detention was obliged to have legal defence. If the person did not have the means, they would be provided with free legal counsel. If the person was an alien, they had the right to contact their consulate immediately.

All offences in the Criminal Code were intentional offences, which generally required “dolus eventualis,” unless it was an offense of negligent conduct. To prove intention, it was enough to show that the person was aware of a substantial risk that the offence would occur and took the risk.

On the questions referring to reparations, the term “damage” referred to material and immaterial damage, in particular pain and suffering, including physical or psychological harm if it amounted to a mental illness.

In order to avoid that victims had to seek reparations under civil procedures, the criminal proceedings decisions included reparations. If the decision was a conviction, the court generally was obliged to stipulate the amount of compensation to the victim.

On questions regarding article 25, the delegation agreed that this article necessitated implementation into national legislation and assured the Committee that the Austrian national legislation was fully in line with this article through various sections of the Criminal Code. These sections included: misuse or abuse of official authority; abduction of a child under 16; counterfeiting legal documents; as well as the section on the suppression of legal documents. All these provisions, guaranteed that the Criminal Code was in line with article 25.

Officials were trained for registration in the penitentiary system. The regulations thereof stipulated that the person should be registered the same day that they entered the institution, or the following day for those who entered at night.

The State party had a very specific law on adoption. If the consent for adoption of the parent was obtained by threat or fraud, the adoption would be legally stopped considering that the continuation of adoption threatened the wellbeing of the child.  The child had to be involved in the legal proceedings and had the right to be heard.  If the child was between 10 and 16 years of age, there was a possibility that the hearings would take place with an expert witness or psychologist. The provider of youth welfare also took part in the legal proceedings.  If the child was under 10 years, the judge decided if the child would be heard, considering the wellbeing of the child. 

Follow-up Questions by the Experts

DANIEL FIGALLO RIVADENEYRA, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for Austria asked the delegation to provide more detailed statistics on asylum seekers.

He also asked the delegation to provide examples for, and clarify the procedures in place to assess the level of risk for repatriation and to guarantee respect of the principle of non-refoulement.
The Expert emphasised the importance of the registration of detainees, noting that whereas this could just be an administrative issue, it could also lead to enforced disappearance.

SUELA JANINA, Committee Expert and Co-Rapporteur for Austria, referring the principle of non-refoulement, asked if there was a fast track record for requests from safe countries of origin which were enumerated on a list by the State party. Did the asylum seekers have the right to appeal the decision or refuse this request?

On the request for compensation made by the victims, the Expert clarified that the State or public official could be the perpetrator of the crime. When such was the case, did the State provide for a fund for victims?

Could the delegation provide an English translation of the provisions it considered as fulfilling the conditions related to the rights of children under article 25?

Another Expert, referring to the forensic measures and units/institutions, inquired what conditions had to occur for hospitalisation as a result of mental illness. Was there assurance that this kind of hospitalisation was not subject to abuse? Was it monitored or supervised by a judge, and if not, how was it monitored? Could the delegation elaborate on the exceptional circumstances in this regard?

The Expert was interested in knowing more about the so-called “baby-box law” which aimed to ensure that women in distress were able to entrust their child to an institution that would care for the child and protect it. This seemed to be one of the best applications of the principle of the best interest of the child. For how long did these children remain in the institution? How was this regulated? Under what conditions were they returned to the mother or the family or given up for adoption?

Responses by the Delegation

Regarding statistical data for asylum seekers, starting with 2014, an average of 28,064 asylum applications had been recorded for Austria. The following year there had been three times as much, namely 88,340. In the following years the figures had gone down.

A person who was considered to have misused their official power could be sentenced for up to five years, and could lose their employment.

On the question of repatriation to safe countries of origin, the delegation confirmed that there was a list of safe countries of origin for which it was assumed that no persecution would take place related to the asylum.

On questions referring to article 18, family members had the right to be informed in cases of disappearances.

As to the misuse of power by a State official, including the police, there was no fund for victims when the perpetrator of the crime was a public official. However, if the civil servant, by exercising their office duties, perpetrated a crime, they were liable to pay for the compensation. If the official did not have the means, the State would make that compensation.

Hospitalisation due to mental illness was undertaken when that person posed a danger to her/himself. The day following hospitalisation, a legal counsel was brought in to determine whether this hospitalisation was legal.

Detainees were registered both electronically as well as manually. The electronic system had all the information, including files from doctors and from the social field, however, not everyone had access to this data. There were strict rules for officers on duty, whereby these were not allowed to look into all files but only the files they were in charge of.

There were two forensic institutions within the correctional system, as well as several forensic departments within other places of detention, which were intended for persons with psychological or psychiatric illnesses. Forensic placement measures were conducted according to a criminal court’s decision whereby the court was obliged to determine, on an annual basis, the necessity of the continuation of the placement in these institutions. A telemedicine system was in place which enabled professional translation of the medical doctor in any language.

On the right to obtain information for persons who were not legal representatives, the law provided that any persons who had legitimate legal interest had the right to access the file of the investigation and trial proceedings, insofar as this did not conflict with overwhelming public or private interests.

There was also the possibility for compensation under the liability of public bodies act for damage caused when implementing the law by State authorities and other bodies and institutions of public law.

Concluding Remarks

In concluding remarks, SUELA JANINA, Committee Expert and Co-Rapporteur for Austria, expressed her gratitude and praise to Austria for its continuous engagement throughout the entire reporting process, starting with the presentation of the report, the replies to the issues, and the activities in the country in order to give full effect to the provisions under the Convention. It had been a very fruitful and positive dialogue, during which the delegation had proven its competence and professionalism. The Committee had noticed the positive steps undertaken by the State party in order ensure the provisions of the Convention, starting from the recognition of articles 31 and 32, which recognized not just the Committee’s competency but also the right of Austria’s citizens. She hoped that this dialogue had helped the State party understand the provisions of the Convention and requested that the Government make known the Convention to the law enforcement agencies, judges, prosecutors, police officers, as well the civil society, in each opportunity it had. She noted that new provisions of the Austrian Criminal Code were a positive step in the fulfilment of the provisions under the Convention. Referring to the elements related to extraditions, Ms. Janina pointed out that article 16 was a very important provision, and one of the pillars of the Convention. She asked Austria to reflect on how each reform in its legal system could be made, so as to ensure that every person protected from enforced disappearance.

HELMUT TICHY, Ambassador and Legal Advisor, Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs of Austria, in concluding remarks, thanked the Committee for the intensive dialogue which had proven that the Committee had followed with interest and detail Austria’s developments in the promotion and protection of the human rights. He thanked the members of his delegation for their expertise and assured the Committee that additional information would be provided, including for the “baby-box law,” as well as the English translation of certain provisions of the Austrian Criminal Code. The understanding of Austria of the Convention was now more developed, and the delegation would report on the Committee’s activities. Mr. Tichy assured the Committee that he would inform the Advisory Council of the Ombudsman Board of the dialogue and distribute the conclusions and recommendations thereof. He would also ask the Council for comments, in an effort to help raise awareness of the Convention. Additional, he informed that he would report on the dialogue during the upcoming regional meeting of international lawyers in Austria.

RAINER HUHLE, Committee Expert and Vice-Chair, in conclusion, noted that the fact that a country that did not currently have a track record on enforced disappearance took this Convention so seriously was very important. Referring to the map of ratifications, he noted that the picture of Europe was not very positive. Austria and Germany had an interest to lobby for the ratification of this Convention. He wished the delegation good luck in the diffusion of the provisions of the Convention and the report, and hoped they had a safe journey home.


For use of the information media; not an official record

CED18.03E