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Commissions of the Austrian Ombudsmen Board

The Commissions are an integral part of the National Preventive Mechanism. The new Commissions were set up with the 1st July 2012. The work of the NPM is based on the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) as well as on parts of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

The new Commissions of the Austrian Ombudsmen Board take over the tasks of the old Commissions of the Human Rights Advisory Board that was established until the end of June 2012 at the Austrian Ministry of Interior and carried out visits to police detention facilities and monitored the use of force by police authorities, especially during deportations, raids and demonstrations, from the perspective of the protection of human rights.

The Austrian Ombudsmen Board and the Commissions undertake preventive measures to ensure compliance with and implementation of the two international treaties (OPCAT and CRPD). The mandate extends to all institutions and facilities where people with and without disabilities are in danger of abuse, inhuman treatment and measures that deprive or may deprive them of their liberty. Overall, the Commissions monitor and control about 4,000 public and private institutions and facilities. These include, for example, prisons, barracks, police stations, and psychiatric institutions, homes for the elderly, long-term care facilities and facilities and programs for people with disabilities.

Experts from different disciplines carry out the visits in these institutions and facilities. They have unrestricted access to all places of detention, as well as to institutions and facilities for people with disabilities. They must be enabled to investigate all relevant details regarding the living conditions for people deprived of their liberty as well as examine the adequacy of the living conditions for people with disabilities. Therefore, they must be given access to all documents and information. They collect information and facts and evaluate them as set out in the international treaties. The Commissions report the results of their investigation to the Austrian Ombudsmen Board. In these reports, they can make recommendations; suggest determinations of cases of maladministration and measures of supervisory control.

The monitoring visits are carried out by six Commissions countrywide comprising at least 42 members. The Commissions are composed in an interdisciplinary way seeking broad representation of ethnic groups and minorities as well as equal gender representation. The members - which perform their work in the Commissions as a secondary job - undertake the visits as delegations representing different fields of expertise and capabilities.

The office of Commission 4 (Chair: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Ernst Berger) is residing at the BIM.

www.menschenrechtsbeirat.at

 

Preventive human rights monitoring in child and adolescent psychiatry and welfare institutions

Neuropsychiatrie 2/17

In their article, Ernst Berger and Caroline Paar offer an overview of the Austrian legal framework regarding monitoring visits to psychiatric hospitals or residential homes/groups for children and juveniles supervised by youth welfare services.

Under OPCAT, six commissions has been assigned with the mandate to visit places of detention as a preventive mechanism against torture and other forms of ill-treatment – to that effect, this includes the facilities mentioned above. The Authors discuss key issues of the monitoring process as well as the commission´s findings and recommendations.

The activities of the Human Rights Advisory Board in 2008, 26 March 2009

The chair of the Human Rights Advisory Board (HRAB), Univ. Prof. Dr. Gerhart WIELINGER and his deputy Univ. Prof. Dr. Gabriele KUCSKO-STADLMAYER together with the head of Commission OLG Linz, Univ. Ass. Mag. Dr. Reinhard KLAUSHOFER invite to a press conference on 26 March 2009, 10 a.m. at „Club Stephansplatz 4“, 1010 Wien, Stephansplatz 4.