ON THE ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
4-22 March 2002
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE
9 OF THE CONVENTION
Concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial
1. The Committee considered the fourteenth periodic report of Austria
(CERD/C/362/Add.7) at its 1502nd and 1503rd meetings (CERD/C/SR.1502
and 1503), held on 7 and 8 March 2002, and at its 1520th meeting (CERD/C/SR.1520),
on 21 March 2002, adopted the following concluding observations.
2. The Committee welcomes the updating report presented by the Government
of Austria, which focuses on the recommendations made by the Committee
in its previous concluding observations (CERD/C/304/Add.64, dated 7
April 1999). The Committee also welcomes the regularity of the State
party's submission of periodic reports.
B. Positive aspects
3. The Committee welcomes recent developments that have taken place
in the field of human rights in Austria. It notes in particular the
establishment in July 1999 of the Human Rights Advisory Council, an
independent body with a mandate to review and monitor the activities
of the law enforcement organs in accordance with human rights principles,
as well as the establishment of the posts of human rights coordinator
at the Austrian federal ministries and the governments of the nine
4. It notes with satisfaction the establishment of the Immigrants Fund
to assist new immigrants by providing free advice in their native
on questions concerning their integration in Austria.
5. It notes also the continuation of the work of the Reconciliation
Fund for Victims of National Socialism which so far has received and
approved some 50,000 applications for compensation from persons who
were subjected to forced labour during the Nazi era.
6. The Committee notes the inclusion of provisions aimed at combating
racism and xenophobia in national legislation, such as the Industrial
Code, the Maintenance of Law and Order Act and media law, in particular
the Broadcasting Act and the Regional Radio Act.
7. The Committee further notes with approval the efforts undertaken
by the State party to safeguard linguistic diversity in the country,
including the adoption of bilingual topographical signs in areas inhabited
by Croat and Hungarian minorities.
8. The Committee welcomes the fact that Austria recently made the declaration
under article 14 of the Convention recognizing the competence of the
Committee to examine communications from individuals or groups of individuals.
C. Concerns and recommendations
9. The Committee is concerned at the wording of article 1, paragraph
1, of the Federal Constitutional Act implementing the Convention,
stipulates that the legislature and the executive shall refrain from
any distinction on the "sole" ground
of race, colour, or national or ethnic origin. In the Committee's
view, this may be regarded as representing
a narrower prohibition of discrimination than is provided in the Convention.
The Committee recalls that multiple discrimination, for example discrimination
based simultaneously on race and sex, falls within the scope of the
Convention, and that such phenomena are addressed in the final documents
of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia
and Related Intolerance. Therefore, while noting that an amendment
this provision is currently under consideration, the Committee reiterates
its previous invitation to the State party (CERD/C/304/Add.64, para.
11) to consider the possibility of deleting the word "sole"
from article 1, paragraph 1, of the Federal Constitutional Act, taking
into consideration general recommendation XXV of the Committee.
10. Concerning articles 2 and 4 of the Convention, the Committee is
of the view that the legislation in place to combat racism is not
adequate to combat discrimination effectively. While noting the existence
of provisions in criminal legislation aimed at combating racism, as
well as recognizing racist or xenophobia motivations as aggravating
circumstances for crimes, the Committee reiterates its recommendation
(ibid, para. 11) to the State party to introduce general legislation
prohibiting racial discrimination in all its forms.
11. The Committee has difficulty in understanding the distinction made
by the State party between autochthonous and other minorities and
legal and practical consequences following from this. The Committee
invites the State party to provide further clarification in this regard
in its next periodic report.
12. The State party's traditional respect for individual privacy when
collecting information on the ethnic composition of the population
noted. However, the Committee expresses concern about the paucity of
data at its disposal for monitoring the implementation of the Convention.
The Committee wishes to emphasize that it is of fundamental importance
to establish basic statistics that indicate how minorities are integrated
into society, and invites the State party to find ways to provide such
data in its next periodic report, including the percentage of minorities
in the workforce and various governmental and private-sector institutions.
13. The Committee is concerned about the significant number of allegations
which have been brought to its attention which reflect the existence
of racist and xenophobic attitudes among some sections of the population.
It is further concerned about allegations of racist incidents involving
police officers and other State employees. In the light of general
recommendation XIX, the Committee encourages the State party to continue
all tendencies which may give rise to racial or ethnic segregation
and to endeavour to combat the negative consequences of such tendencies.
The Committee further recommends that the State party strengthen existing
educational measures for civil servants who deal with issues involving
foreigners. Efforts should be made to recruit more members of minority
groups into the public administration, in particular law enforcement.
14. The Committee is concerned at the considerable number of asylum-seekers
without identity documents who have been denied public assistance
the Federal Care and Maintenance Programme and who must therefore rely
on private assistance and other agencies for survival. The Committee
recommends that the State party ensure the provision of basic and equal
assistance to all asylum-seekers, without distinction as to race or
ethnic and national origin.
15. The Committee also reiterates its appeal to the State party to
ratify the amendments to article 8, paragraph 6, of the Convention,
on 15 January 1992 at the Fourteenth Meeting of States Parties to the
Convention and endorsed by the General Assembly in its resolution
16. The Committee recommends that the State party's reports be made
readily available to the public from the time they are submitted and
that the Committee's concluding observations on them be similarly publicized.
It encourages the State party to insert the Committee's concluding
on the appropriate ministry's web site.
17. The Committee recommends that the State party take into account
the relevant parts of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action
when implementing the Convention in the domestic legal order, in particular
in respect of articles 2 to 7 of the Convention, and that it include
in its next periodic report information on action plans or other measures
taken to implement the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action
18. The Committee recommends that the State party submit its fifteenth
periodic report jointly with its sixteenth periodic report, due on
June 2003, that it be an updating report, and that it address the points
raised in the present observations.
* Please note that the symbol CERD/C/Session No./CO/... will from now
on replace the previous symbol CERD/C/304/Add...