COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION
OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES
UNDER ARTICLE 9 OF THE CONVENTION
observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
1. The Committee
considered the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth periodic reports of
Austria (CERD/C/319/Add.5) at its 1305th and 1306th meetings (CERD/C/SR.1305
and 1306), held on 1 and 2 March 1999. At its 1327th meeting, held on
16 March 1999, it adopted the following concluding observations.
2. The Committee
welcomes the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth periodic reports submitted
by the Government of Austria in one document and the opportunity thus
offered to continue its dialogue with the State party. Although the
report followed the guidelines, the Committee is of the view that the
information in it was too concise, was too focused on legislation and
administrative measures, failed fully to address the Committee's concluding
observations relating to the previous report of the State party, and
did not sufficiently consider the extent to which residents benefited
in practice from the protections promised in the Convention. The Committee
expresses its appreciation for the constructive and concrete dialogue
with the delegation and the additional information provided in response
to the questions asked.
B. Positive aspects
3. The Committee
notes with satisfaction that the State party has condemned genocide
as a crime under international law, and trusts that all acts of genocide
will be condemned without any distinction as to time, place or group
of victims. In this regard, the Committee welcomes the establishment
of the National Fund for Victims of National Socialism (1995), which
offers a scheme for compensation of all the victims of genocide.
4. The Committee
welcomes the information contained in the report concerning educational
measures which provide for the teaching of the principles of tolerance
and peaceful coexistence in a multicultural society. Satisfaction is
also expressed in relation to the efforts undertaken by the State party
to raise awareness and promote action against all forms of racial discrimination.
The Committee notes, in this regard, the establishment of radio programmes
for this purpose.
C. Principal subjects of concern
5. While the
Committee is aware that the Convention has been incorporated into Austrian
domestic law (Federal Constitutional Act, 1973) and welcomes the judgements
of the Constitutional Court (1994/1995) which provide for equality in
the treatment of aliens, concern remains about the element of subjectivity
in the rule that "decisions refusing an alien equal treatment may only
be admissible if and when there is a reasonable justification".
is expressed that the immigration policy of the State party, contained
in the Aliens Act of 1997, classifies foreigners on the basis of their
national origin. The Committee considers that the concept and effect
of this policy may be stigmatizing and discriminatory and, therefore,
contrary to the principles and provisions of the Convention.
7. While the
Committee welcomes the measures taken by the State party for the protection
of the rights of the Slovenian, Croatian and Hungarian minority groups,
concern remains at the lack of corresponding measures for other "national
ethnic minorities", in particular Czechs, Slovaks and Roma, as well
as for those who are sometimes referred to as "new minorities". Concern
is also expressed at the lack of legal protection for residents of foreign
origin against discrimination committed by Austrian citizens.
8. While the
Committee notes with appreciation the State party's efforts in the field
of legislative reform, especially the amendments to the Austrian Penal
Code (sects. 281 and 283), which criminalize racist propaganda and the
incitement to racial hostility, the Committee is nevertheless still
concerned that the condemnation of such acts is qualified by a reference
to public peace and that article 4 (b) of the Convention is not fully
implemented, notably as regards prohibition of organizations which promote
and incite racial discrimination. Concern is also expressed about the
number of reported incidents of xenophobia and racial discrimination,
including acts of anti-Semitism and hostility against certain ethnic
9. The Committee
expresses its concern that, seven years after it drew the attention
of the State party to the absence of sanctions against racial discrimination
in the private sector, little progress has been made in fully implementing
the provisions of articles 5 (e) and (f). In addition, the Committee
expresses its concern that non-citizens are not currently eligible for
participation in work councils.
is expressed about reports of serious incidents of police brutality
in dealing with persons of foreign origin and ethnic minorities, including
D. Suggestions and recommendations
11. The Committee
recommends that the State party introduce comprehensive legislation
to prohibit racial discrimination in all its forms, covering both citizens
and foreigners. Furthermore, it recommends that the State party consider
amending the relevant provision in the Constitution Act implementing
the Convention by deleting the word "sole" in connection with the basis
of illegal racial distinctions.
12. The Committee
encourages the State party to continue exploring ways of providing specific
protection to all ethnic groups living in Austria. The Committee further
recommends that the State party include in its next report more detailed
information on the demographic composition of the Austrian population,
in the light of paragraph 8 of the reporting guidelines. Information
on the socio-economic situation, particularly the unemployment rate
in the various ethnic communities, would be appreciated.
13. The Committee
urges the State party to review those elements of its current immigration
policy which classify foreigners on the basis of their national origin.
In its forthcoming report the State party is requested to include information
on current asylum practices.
14. The Committee
recommends that the State party take the necessary steps to implement
article 4 (b) of the Convention. The Committee further recommends that
the State party include in its next report information on complaints
of discrimination under article 4 of the Convention, the prosecution
by the authorities of such offences, including criminal attacks against
members of certain ethnic groups, as well as the action taken by the
Ombudsman and by the competent courts. Where appropriate, information
on reparation granted to victims, in accordance with article 6 of the
Convention, would be appreciated.
15. The Committee
recommends that the State party review its provisions for implementing
article 6 of the Convention. In its forthcoming report, the State party
should address, inter alia, the effectiveness of the protection
and the adequacy of the remedies provided.
16. The Committee
recommends that the State party consider withdrawing its declarations
regarding articles 4 and 5 of the Convention.
17. It is further
suggested that the State party consider providing education and training
on racial tolerance and human rights issues to law enforcement officials
and police officers, in accordance with article 7 of the Convention
and General Recommendation XIII of the Committee. In addition, the Committee
suggests that the State party review the adequacy of its measures for
investigating allegations of police brutality and abuse of office.
18. The Committee
recommends that the State party ratify the amendments to article 8,
paragraph 6, of the Convention, adopted on 15 January 1992 at the Fourteenth
Meeting of State Parties to the Convention.
19. It is noted
that the State party has not made the declaration provided for in article
14 of the Convention, and some members of the Committee requested that
the possibility of making such a declaration be considered.
20. The Committee
suggests to the State party that its reports and the present concluding
observations be widely distributed to the public. The Committee recommends
that the State party's next periodic report, due on 8 June 1999, be
an updating report and that it address all the points raised during
the consideration of the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth reports.