Ombudsman Board becomes "human rights house of the Republic of Austria"
From 1 July 2012 the Austrian Ombudsman Board (AOB) exerts its new mandate that from now on also includes the protection and promotion of human rights making the AOB the “human rights house of the Republic of Austria”.
By becoming a treaty party to two significant UN human rights conventions the Republic of Austria committed itself to overseeing human rights guarantees and international standards. The new AOB tasks will implement the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) as well as certain provisions of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
Human rights monitoring carried out by the AOB and its Commissions is employed preventively to ensure compliance and implementation of these two international obligations. The new mandate includes all institutions and facilities where people with and without disabilities are in danger of being particularly helpless against abuse, inhuman treatment and measures that deprive them of liberty. From now on the AOB monitors and controls a total of about 4,000 public and private organisations and facilities. These include, for example, correctional institutions, barracks, police stations, psychiatric facilities, homes for the elderly, long-term care facilities and facilities for persons with disabilities.
Experts from different disciplines are carrying out the function of observers in various facilities. They collect information and evaluate all facts in the light of the requirements of international conventions. The decisions of the AOB are then based on these protocols which contain suggestions with the aim to prevent human rights violations.
As National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) the AOB and the Commissions regularly report to the Parliament about their activities. The Republic of Austria follows the model of other European states such as Denmark, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Cyprus and Poland which also entrusted their respective Ombudsman institutions with NPM tasks.