A delegation of the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) carried out a periodic visit to Austria from 23 November to 3 December 2021. This was the CPT’s seventh periodic visit to the country.
The delegation examined the treatment and conditions of detention of persons held in several prisons. It also assessed the situation of persons subjected to the court‑imposed measure of involuntary forensic placement (Massnahmenvollzug) and of involuntary patients in a civil psychiatric hospital. Furthermore, the delegation examined the treatment and safeguards afforded to persons held in police custody and in detention pending deportation. Particular attention was paid during the visit to the measures taken by the relevant authorities to implement various recommendations made by the Committee after its previous visits to Austria.
In the course of the visit, the delegation held consultations with Alma Zadić, Federal Minister of Justice, Friedrich König, Director General of the Prison Service, General Reinhard Schnakl, Head of Department at the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Ambassador Helmut Tichy, Director General, Head of the Office of International Law (Völkerrechtsbüro) of the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs, as well as other senior officials from the aforementioned ministries and the Federal Ministry for Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection.
The delegation also met Walter Rosenkranz, Ombudsman, and other representatives of the Austrian Ombudsman Board (Volksanwaltschaft), in their capacity as National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) under the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Torture (OPCAT), as well as Renate Kicker, Chairperson of the Human Rights Advisory Board.
In the context of the visit, the delegation also consulted several non-governmental organisations active in areas of concern to the CPT.
At the end of the visit, the delegation presented its preliminary observations to the Austrian authorities.
The visit was carried out by the following members of the CPT:
- Hans Wolff, 1st VicePresident of the CPT (Head of Delegation)
- Vȃnia Costa Ramos
- Gergely Fliegauf
- Nico Hirsch
- Gordan Kalajdjiev
- Gunda Wössner.
They were supported by Petr Hnátík and Almut Schröder of the CPT’s Secretariat and assisted by Birgit Völlm, Professor of Forensic Psychiatry, Medical Director of the Forensic Hospital at the University of Rostock, Germany (expert).
The delegation visited the following places of deprivation of liberty:
- Amstetten District Police Headquarters (Mozartstrasse 31)
- Innsbruck Regional Police Headquarters (Innrain 34)
- Kematen/Ybbs Police Station (1. Strasse 41b)
- Leoben Police Station (Josef-Heissel-Strasse 14)
- Vienna-Leopoldsgasse Police Station
- Vienna-Hernalser Gürtel Police Detention Centre (Polizeianhaltezentrum – PAZ)
- Göllersdorf Prison (specialised prison for Massnahmenvollzug)
- Innsbruck Prison
- Leoben Prison
- Stein Prison (Units for Massnahmenvollzug)
- Vienna-Josefstadt Prison
- Regional Hospital Mauer (targeted visit focusing on forensic psychiatry, involuntary treatment and the use of means of restraint).