Commissions of the Austrian Ombudsmen Board

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 Austrian Ombudsmen Board and its 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, 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. 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: Andrea Berzlanovich) is residing at the LBI of Fundamental and Human Rights.