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Human Dignity and Public Security

Providing research-based support in order to fight torture and ill-treatment globally

Freedom from torture is universally recognised as an absolute and non-derogable right and international human rights treaties and standards contain numerous preventive obligations. Nevertheless, torture remains a problem in the majority of States worldwide, often even on a widespread or systematic scale. States fail to implement their obligations due to a lack of political will or adequate capacities, or to a lack of efficient preventive measures. International and national oversight mechanisms do not achieve to effectively follow up their recommendations to provide the necessary support to or exert pressure on the responsible authorities.

The Human Dignity and Public Security team at the BIM is specialised in the prevention of torture and ill-treatment and the protection of human rights in the criminal justice system. The team was established in 2004 to support Manfred Nowak’s mandate as UN Special Rapporteur on Torture (2004-2010), investigating the situation of torture and ill-treatment worldwide. Observing the lack of follow-up and implementation of recommendations for the prevention of torture, the team has since then carried out extensive research on the effectiveness of torture prevention measures, focusing particularly on the following questions:

  • What measures and mechanisms are effective in the prevention of torture and ill-treatment and the protection of detainees’ rights?
  • How can existing legal and institutional frameworks be strengthened to more effectively prevent torture and protect human rights, especially the rights of detainees?
  • How can monitoring and oversight mechanisms ensure the implementation of national and international human rights obligations?

The Institute is guided by the idea of ‘translational research’, committed to transform its research results into direct impact on the ground, meaning contributing to a concrete improvement of human rights in societies. In this spirit, the team aims at using its expertise and the experience in investigating, monitoring and reporting human rights violations to provide evidence-based and targeted advice as well as support to torture prevention actors. In the past, the team has supported State actors, notably National Human Rights Institutions (NHRI), as well as civil society actors in inter alia Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, FYROM, Moldova, Pakistan, Paraguay, Romania, Togo, Turkey, Uruguay and is currently engaged in Kyrgyzstan, Morocco and across Europe. Thereby, the team has not only gathered broad substantive but also methodological experiences on organisational development and how to conduct effective consulting and training.

3rd meeting of experts and stakeholders on European Union Fundamental Rights Information System (EFRIS)

From 22 to 23 March 2018, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) will host its third expert meeting on developing an online tool on EU Member States’ compliance with international human rights law and fundamental rights. Moritz Birk (BIM) will attend to the panel.

European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, Schwarzenbergplatz 11, 1040 Vienna, Austria

European Prison Observatory: Strategies and Programmes for De-radicalization and Risk Assessment

The aim of this EU (DG Justice) financed project is to evaluate strategies and programmes which prevent, deter and counter radicalization in prison including detention centres in seven European countries. Here promising practice examples regarding de-radicalization, disengagement and rehabilitation programmes and risk assessment tools will be identified and analysed. Furthermore, the project enhances the exchange of knowledge between the participating countries.

The Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights (BIM) acts as a national partner and evaluates the Austrian situation by researching de-radicalization programmes and measures, including risk assessment tools and analysing them through a human rights perspective.

Children Deprived of Liberty - Manfred Nowak speaks at the UN General Assembly

Manfred Nowak at the UN General Assembly

In autumn 2016, Manfred Nowak, co-director of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights, was appointed as Independent Expert to lead the Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty.

In his speech at the UN General Assembly, on 10 October 2017, Manfred Nowak reiterated the importance of the Global Study in generating long-term change to improve the lives of children and ultimately reduce the number of children deprived of liberty. One core objective of the Global Study is to provide recommendations in order to better safeguard children´s rights and work in the best interest of the child. Thus, he called upon all UN member states to support and fund the Global Study to make sure that no child remains invisible.

Rule of Law in Kyrgyzstan – Austrian experts Roland Miklau and Nina Radović at Round Table on Torture Prevention

Round table panelists

On 23 June 2017, the Human Rights Advisory Board in Kyrgyzstan in cooperation with the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights organised a round table on “Common Efforts of State Bodies and Civil Society for Torture Prevention”, which took place in Osh, Kyrgyzstan. As part of the EU Project “Promotion of Rule of Law in Kyrgyzstan”, the round table aimed at discussing obstacles related to the prevention of torture and at considering the role of state bodies and civil society actors in their efforts to respond to torture allegations not only individually, but also in a coordinated way.

Kyrgyz President Atambajew honours BIM project

Team leader Stefanos Kareklas and President Almasbek Atambajew

The Kyrgyz President Almasbek Atambajew honored the project consortium represented by team leader Stefanos Kareklas for the successes in the implementation of the EU project Promotion of the respect of Rule of Law with particular emphasis on Transparency and Accountability in Kyrgyzstan. With the support of the Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs, the BIM on behalf of Austria is part of a consortium of EU Member States led by the German Association for International Cooperation (GIZ). Since 2014 the BIM has been working on strengthening the capacities and efficiency of control and supervisory functions of relevant governmental institutions such as the Public Prosecutor's Office, Parliament, the Ministry of Justice and the Ombudsman.

CCPCJ: Exploring the potential of cross-border cooperation in criminal matters: From non-custodial provisions to monitoring mechanisms.


On the 24th May at 14.20, as part of the side events to the 26th Session of the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ), the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights and the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, in conjunction with the European External Actions Service, the Permanent Mission of Ireland to the International Organisations in Vienna, and the Permanent Mission of Austria to the United Nations have organised an event entitled: Exploring the potential of cross-border cooperation in criminal matters: From non-custodial provisions to monitoring mechanisms.

VIC, Room M6 / Vienna