Statement to the fourth periodic report of Austria

November 15, 2013

In its function as a National Human Rights Institution (NHRI), the Austrian Ombudsman Board welcomes the opportunity of delivering its statement regarding the question whether and how Austria has fulfilled its obligations under the aforementioned international human rights treaty.

Social human rights are for the most part without constitutional status in Austria. With regard to placing social human rights on an equal footing with civil and political human rights, the Austrian Ombudsman Board advocates the addition of social human rights to the Constitution. In this context the Austrian Ombudsman Board also stresses that it advocates the signing and ratification of the UN Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, in which the possibility of complaints procedures for individuals or groups of individuals is set out as a standard.

In its statement to the UN Committee the Austrian Ombudsman Board addresses areas of concern such as the needs-based minimum benefit system, the situation of persons with disabilities, measures in the sector of youth welfare, as well as schools and public and private broadcasters. The report is based on the AOB’s experiences in its function as the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) and provides detailed information about the findings of the visits carried out by the AOB’s six Commissions as well as the results of the following investigative proceedings.

As in prior public reports the Austrian Ombudsman Board again alludes to the problem of the often fundamental lack of freedom of residential choice facing persons with disabilities, senior citizens or children and adolescents. For example, the AOB considers the accommodation of adolescents with psychiatric illness and / or people with multiple disabilities in retirement and nursing homes unacceptable.

For the exact wording please refer to the adjacent statement.