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Austria

  • 1. GENERAL INFORMATION

    Trafficking in human beings has received particular attention in Austria since 2004, when the introduction of a special section on human trafficking in the Criminal Code put the issue on the political map. This was followed by the establishment of a special Task Force against human trafficking the same year, and a first National Action Plan in 2007, which was followed by a second National Action Plan in 2009. Ambassador Dr. Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger was appointed on 10 March 2009 by the Austrian Federal Government as the First Austrian National Coordinator on Combating Human Trafficking.

    Because of its geographical location at the centre of Europe, Austria is affected by human trafficking both as a transit country and target destination. According to estimates, the most frequent phenomena of human trafficking in Austria include sexual exploitation, slave-like situations of domestic servants and child trafficking.

    Austria acknowledges the importance of the collection of data in the fight against THB. The Austrian Federal Ministry of Justice installed an expert group to upgrade the existing data collection and data analysis. This expert group is working on the technical requirements to collect more information related to victims, in particular gender, age and nationality. Statistical data on the overall numbers of prosecution, convictions and sanctions related to the offence of THB is already available. The Federal Criminal Intelligence Service is working on improving its system of data collection in the field of THB. Moreover, close cooperation within the framework of the European Union will facilitate the collection of comparable data on an EU-wide basis.

    Main and new trends

    • A decrease in child trafficking for begging or property crime but an increase in the number of unaccompanied asylum-seeking minors with challenges in the identification of victims of child trafficking.
    • An increased use of social media for recruiting victims and for offering services of trafficked persons.
    • An increase of Chinese victims and networks involved in illegal prostitution.

    Trafficking of women: The Austrian NGO LEFÖ-IBF (Intervention Centre for Trafficked Women) identified 242 victims of THB (in cooperation with police, other NGOs and government institutions) in 2012; 47% of these women originated from EU member states such as Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania. The NGO LEFÖ-IBF operates on a national level on behalf of the Ministry of the Interior and the Women‘s Directorate within the Federal Chancellery of Austria to assist trafficked women in their physical, psychological and social recovery. Supported financially by these ministries, LEFÖ-IBF is able to provide an appropriate and secure accommodation with 24 hours assistance by a cultural mediator as well as material assistance for up to 12 women at a time. Additionally, LEFÖ-IBF provides non-permanent shelter for 6 women at a time who have recovered enough to be able to live more independently and without the 24 hours presence of a cultural mediator. All trafficked women who get in contact with LEFÖ-IBF can receive psychological as well as access to emergency medical treatment. LEFÖ also provides victims of THB with psychosocial and legal assistance during criminal and civil proceedings, with the financial support of the Austrian Ministry of Justice. 

    Child Trafficking: Numbers of identified victims of child trafficking decreased. The Viennese crisis centre “Drehscheibe” identified 2 male victims and 7 female potential victims of child trafficking in 2012. Cases involve mainly children from South East Europe (inter alia from Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bosnia-Herzegovina).

     

     

    A summary of this text is also available in the official language of the country.

    Attachments

  • 2. INSTITUTIONAL AND LEGAL FRAMEWORK

    Legislation

    All forms of trafficking in human beings have been prohibited since 2004 when the specific offence of trafficking in persons was introduced in the Criminal Code (article 104a STGB). Some forms of trafficking in persons were prosecuted prior to 2004 under various articles of the Austrian Criminal Code.  The sentences for human trafficking range from six months to ten years' imprisonment.  Victims of human trafficking are granted a reflection period of 30 days, which is not linked to any cooperation with the law enforcement authorities.

    Austrian law allows the extraterritorial prosecution of Austrian nationals who travel abroad to engage in commercial sexual exploitation of children.

    National Strategy/National Action Plan

    Austria’s government adopted its second National Action Plan in 2009. The Action Plan for 2009-2011 includes the following nine priority areas: national coordination, prevention, identification, protection of victims and support, criminal prosecution, compensation, improving data collection, international cooperation, and monitoring and evaluation.

    The current Action Plan represents a continuation of the previous National Action Plan, adopted in March 2007.

    Compensation

    The Austrian Foreign Ministry financed a study on compensation for victims of THB in Austria in the framework of the European project COMPACT.  Some recommendations of this study will be incorporated in the new action plan 2012-2014.   On 30 November 2010 the Austrian National Assembly has adopted the so-called “criminal law competence package” (abbreviated: sKp). One of the goals of this package is to reinforce the efficient implementation of orders relating to property. The part of the sKp, which contains the strengthening of the system of confiscation, entered into force on 1st January 2011. The Ministry of Justice will establish specialised public prosecutors for the confiscation of profits of crime. This new measure will contribute to support victims of THB to claim compensation from confiscated assets. 

    Co-ordination of anti-trafficking actions at a national level

    The Austrian National Coordinator on Combating Human Trafficking was appointed on 10 March 2009.  The function is held by a senior official at the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs (FMEIA).

    Task Force against Human Trafficking

    The National Coordinator serves as the Head of the Austrian Task Force against Human Trafficking, established up in November 2004 by a Ministerial Council Resolution. The Task Force is charged with coordinating and intensifying the measures taken by Austria to fight human trafficking.

    The Task Force on Human Trafficking has defined the following priorities for its activities:

    • Improvement of data collection, including the identification of victims of human trafficking
    • Proactive cooperation in developing a practice-oriented monitoring instrument  
    • Information/awareness-raising campaigns and events that attract public attention in order to raise awareness of human trafficking among the Austrian public
    • Creation of a pool of experts, who can be dispatched to any place in Austria to contribute their expert knowledge to awareness-raising events
    • Elaboration of training concepts for stakeholders concerning the topic of human trafficking 
    • Discussion and development of measures and activities aimed at improving victim protection and the care and support granted to trafficked persons 
    • Intensification of relevant activities in the field of law enforcement and criminal prosecution, particularly through international cooperation
    • Enhancement of relevant activities in the field of child trafficking, including the elaboration of a comprehensive care/support and cooperation concept at the federal and province levels
    • Development of international projects on preventive measures in the countries of origin
    • Provision of access to health care services as outlined in the government programme
    • Additional efforts aimed at further enhancing access to the labour market, housing and education for victims of human trafficking

    The Task Force includes representatives of all competent ministries, including the outsourced divisions, the federal provinces and non-governmental organisations. The Vienna-based Intervention Centre for Trafficked Women (LEFÖ-IBF), ECPAT Austria, the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Human Rights as well as the Viennese Crisis Centre “Drehscheibe” are also members of the group.

    Awareness-raising

    As far as awareness-raising measures for young people are concerned, an exhibition entitled “THB - 21 century’s slavery” was launched in October 2010 and is currently circulating in schools and universities throughout Austria. On the occasion of the EU-Anti-Trafficking-Day in October the Austrian Foreign ministry will organize a public event in order to sensitize the Austrian population for this issue.

    The National Rapporteur or equivalent mechanism

    The Austrian government has not yet appointed a National Rapporteur. 

    Most important challenges that Austria faces at a national level

    • Identification of victims of human trafficking, including the improvement of data collection
    • Child trafficking: the elaboration of a comprehensive care/support and cooperation concept at the federal and province levels would be necessary
    • Labour exploitation: to adopt a proactive approach regarding the identification of victims of trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation.
    • Compensation and legal remedies: It would be necessary to adopt measures to facilitate and guarantee access to compensation for all victims of THB.
    • Training of judicial staff: As in many other EU-countries, the number of convictions is very low. Austria intends to step up the training provided to judicial staff.
    • Personal resources: Each trafficking case is very complex and unique. More staff in the law enforcement and judicial sector would be required to investigate cases of THB successfully.

     

  • 3. IMPLEMENTATION OF ANTI-TRAFFICKING POLICY

    Prevention

    An important goal in the fight against human trafficking is raising the Austrian public’s awareness on this issue. The Austrian Ministry for European and International Affairs has introduced regulations regarding the employment of domestic workers by diplomatic staff based in Vienna in order to prevent forced labour.

    The discussion platform Joining Forces Against Human Trafficking takes places every year on EU Anti-Trafficking Day. This event is always jointly opened by the competent ministers, such as the Federal Minister for European and International Affairs, the Federal Minister of Justice, the Federal Minister for Women, Media and the Civil Service, and the Federal Minister of the Interior.

    In June 2008, in conjunction with the European Soccer Championship, the government subsidised and widely distributed a brochure to increase public awareness and inform women in prostitution about their rights. The government also published a brochure on child trafficking in the same year, to raise awareness and provide advice on assisting child victims. Furthermore, the government created a section dedicated to child trafficking on the government website (www.kinderrechte.gv.at),thus raising awareness about this issue among the public.

    In October 2008 the Austrian NGO LEFÖ-IBF organised an international symposium on work, migration, rights: Strategies against Trafficking in women.

    Another example is the public preparatory conference for the World Congress against the sexual exploitation of children and adolescents, which took place in October 2008 in Vienna.

    The Ministry of Defence organises an annual NGO-provided course to inform Austrian troops about human trafficking before they are deployed on international peacekeeping missions.

    Assistance and support provided to victims

    The Ministry of Interior operates a witness protection programme which accepts victims of trafficking and, under specific conditions, also their close relatives. Additionally, the state-funded NGO LEFÖ-IBF (Intervention Centre for Trafficked Women) provides support and assistance to female victims of trafficking. For victims of child trafficking, a special shelter was founded by the city of Vienna.

    Preliminary work is currently underway to establish provisions enabling LEFÖ-IBF to officially take care of victims on a nationwide basis. LEFÖ-IBF is funded by the Austrian Federal Government (Women’s Directorate within the Federal Chancellery and Federal Ministry of the Interior) and funding was increased substantially in 2007 and 2008.

    Cooperation between law enforcement and victims support agencies in Vienna has been formalized and structured.

    Latest initiatives/activities related to anti-trafficking policy

    Third National Action Plan 2012-2014 and 2nd report regarding the situation of THB in Austria: The Austrian government adopted the third National Action Plan against THB and the 2nd report regarding the situation of THB in Austria in March 2012. The third Austrian National Action Plan against THB covering the period from 2012-2014 again reflects the comprehensive approach taken by Austria in combating human trafficking. It is characterised inter alia by nation-wide coordination, prevention, victim protection, criminal prosecution, and international cooperation.

    Within the Viennese Criminal Court a human trafficking division has been created, staffed by a judge dedicated to trafficking cases. There is also a specialized prosecution unit.

    The protection of domestic employees of diplomats and of staff of International Organisations from exploitation and trafficking is a high priority for the Austrian Ministry for European and International Affairs. In 2012 additional measures were introduced, including the obligation for domestic employees to have an own banking account with a banking card to which the employer is to transfer the agreed monthly salary (minimum 1,100.- Euro). Compliance with these requirements is checked regularly on the occasion of the yearly extension of the “legitimation card”, for which the employee has to come to the Ministry in person and unaccompanied.
    A new working group focussing on labour exploitation has been established within the Task Force on Combatting THB, the national coordinating mechanism. One of its main tasks will be the development of indicators for the identification of victims.

    The Austrian Federal Ministry of the Interior will try to promote physical evidence in cases of human trafficking through forensic investigations of living victims of violent crimes. As the project with IOM in the field of “Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration of Minors and Young Adults from Moldova with emphasis on the Prevention of (Re-) Trafficking” will end in June this year, the Ministry of the Interior is currently examining the possibility of a new project on voluntary return and reintegration assistance to potential trafficking victims in China. To fight THB efficiently it is necessary to collect data from multiple sources and fuse it to produce intelligence,  herefore the Ministry of Interior participates as partner in the project “Towards a Pan EU Monitoring System in trafficking in human beings”. The main objective of the project is to provide countries with a THB efficient monitoring system (MoSy) in the framework of Best Practices regarding the harmonization of procedures for the collection, treatment, analysis and sharing of information. As cobeneficiary of this project, the MoI will support the states responsible for the implementation through technical input in the working groups and initiatives.

    Cooperation with Moldova: The Austrian Federal Ministry of the Interior together with IOM started its cooperation with Moldova in the field of “Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration of Minors and Young Adults from Moldova with emphasis on the Prevention of (Re-)Trafficking”. The project is funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry of the Interior and the European Return Fund. The project duration is from 01.07.2012 to 30.06.2013. With due regard to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the project provides tailored rehabilitation and reintegration assistance to minor and young adult trafficked persons and vulnerable individuals who return to the Republic of Moldova from Austria. These assistance measures aim to lower the risk of these individuals being (re-)trafficked.

    Access of victims of trafficking to the Austrian Labour market: The Austrian Parliament has recently decided an amendment to the Foreigners’ Employment Act (“Ausländerbeschäftigungsgesetz – AuslBG”; decision of the National Council on March 31, 2011; decision of the Federal Council on April 14, 2011), which significantly facilitates the access to the Austrian labour market as well as  to training facilities offered by the Austrian Labour Market Service (AMS) for victims and witnesses of human trafficking.

    Access of victims of trafficking to the Austrian Labour market: The Austrian Parliament has recently decided an amendment to the Foreigners’ Employment Act (“Ausländerbeschäftigungsgesetz – AuslBG”; decision of the National Council on March 31, 2011; decision of the Federal Council on April 14, 2011), which significantly facilitates the access to the Austrian labour market as well as  to training facilities offered by the Austrian Labour Market Service (AMS) for victims and witnesses of human trafficking.

    Measures regarding the protection of rights of domestic workers of diplomatic staff based in Austria

    The Austrian Foreign Ministry took a number of stringent measures geared to ensure the protection of domestic staff in diplomatic households in Austria. These measures were taken in order to draw the attention of the diplomatic community to the issue and thus enforce the rights of domestic workers.It is compulsory for private household employees to register personally with their consulate in Austria and to appear in the Foreign Ministry (at least once a year) in person in order to pick up the “legitimation card”. The domestic employee is thus given a possibility to be received individually, to get information about his or her rights and – in case of need – to get an opportunity to talk and get help.As an essential measure of preventing exploitation of private household employees, a number of documents have to be presented to and checked by the Ministry when a diplomat applies for a visa for his future household employee (e.g. copies of a working contract, of the floor plan of the apartment with the room assigned to the employee, a copy of the lease contract, of the travel insurance and a copy of the letter of commitment). The Ministry also requests that a private household employee holds her/his own banking account to which the salary payment has to be transferred. The minimum salary is currently € 1.040, 15 times per year. Noncompliance with one of these prerequisites results in the denial of the issuance of a visa or of a “legitimation card” to the private household employee. The Foreign Ministry is also in direct contact with the nation-wide “Centre for Victims of Trafficking in Women” LEFÖ-IBF about possible cases of human trafficking related to domestic servitude. This direct contact with the intervention centre for trafficked women enables the Foreign Ministry to act immediately and to support the investigations of a particular case led by other Austrian authorities, such as the Ministries of the Interior or Justice. As soon as the Foreign Ministry is informed about a certain case, it uses all means available to support a possible victim of domestic slavery in domestic households. The Austrian Foreign Ministry follows a policy, whereby every single case is taken seriously and investigated. Diplomatic immunity should never “protect” a person who commits such a terrible crime. Those cases are considered as severe human rights violations.

    Specific measures regarding labour exploitation

    The ministry for social affairs and consumer protection has undertaken measures to raise awareness on the problem of THB among labour inspectorates. Currently, the ministry is working on a leaflet aimed at providing practical information (criteria of THB etc.) on the issue. In autumn 2011 a specialised workshop on THB for the purpose of labour exploitation will be organized. Furthermore, tax inspectors also receive regular training on identifying potential victims.  A new Legal Act against Dumping of Wages will support the process of identifying cases of labour exploitation. This Act also foresees more stringent penalties for perpetrators.  

    Awareness-raising: As far as awareness-raising measures for young people are concerned, an exhibition entitled “THB - 21 century’s slavery” was launched in October 2010 and is currently circulating in schools and universities throughout Austria. On the occasion of the EU-Anti-Trafficking-Day in October the Austrian Foreign ministry organized a public event in Vienna on 17 October 2011 in order to sensitize the Austrian population for this issue.

    Compensation: The Austrian Foreign Ministry financed a study on compensation for victims of THB in Austria in the framework of the European project COMPACT.  Some recommendations of this study will be incorporated in the new action plan 2012-2014. On 30 November 2010 the Austrian National Assembly has adopted the so-called “criminal law competence package” (abbreviated: sKp). One of the goals of this package is to reinforce the efficient implementation of orders relating to property. The part of the sKp, which contains the strengthening of the system of confiscation, entered into force on 1st January 2011. The Ministry of Justice will establish specialised public prosecutors for the confiscation of profits of crime. This new measure will contribute to support victims of THB to claim compensation from confiscated assets.

    Residence permits: With the implementation of the Council Directive 2004/81/EC of 29 April 2004 (on the residence permit issued to third-country nationals who are victims of trafficking and who co-operate with the competent authorities), Austria introduced a reflection period of 30 days for all victims of trafficking during which the obligation to leave the country is suspended. This does not require any cooperation with the authorities. Once it has been determined that the relevant individuals are victims of human trafficking, residence permits for a period of at least six months can be issued for these persons (and under certain circumstances also for their children). This has been the case since April 2009.

    An inclusion in the Federal Ministry of the Interior’s witness protection system can also be taken into consideration, if there is reason to believe that a victim of human trafficking is exposing him/herself to danger because of the evidence he/she has given. It is also possible to extend the witness protection programme to include close relatives.

    Special protective measures for children

    Austria has developed a system of providing assistance to the victims of child trafficking. The city of Vienna created a special shelter for children and for this purpose established a new institution in 2003 Die Drehscheibe – which would translate as the “Revolving disk” in English - a centre for victims of child trafficking and unaccompanied foreign minors. The aim was not only to take care of these children but also to cooperate with the countries of origin such as Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Hungary, Georgia and China to find long-term solutions. Social workers from Vienna hold training courses for the staff in the countries of origin, and Vienna also supports the construction of crisis centres. These long-term measures of the Drehscheibe provide children with the possibility of a safe return to their home countries.

    Investigation and prosecution

    A number of training seminars on the effective detection and prosecution of human traffickers have been organised for judges, magistrates, public prosecutors and law enforcement officers. Border management officers receive instructions to enable them to identify suspected cases of human trafficking, particularly in the context of the enlargement of the Schengen area.

    Established multidisciplinary groups, special units etc.

    The Austrian Federal Criminal Intelligence Service (Bundeskriminalamt) has a special Central Service for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and Alien Smuggling.  It leads and coordinates the activities of law enforcement authorities and agencies as well as criminal and security police investigations. Additionally, regional police forces have special units to combat trafficking in persons.

    The Austrian Criminal Police Office (BK) has set up a telephone hotline (+43-1-24836-85383) to receive reports of potential human trafficking cases. All reports can be made anonymously, 24 hours, seven days a week. The calls will be handled by specialized human trafficking investigators who can identify suspicious activities and take immediate action. It is also possible to send an e-mail to: menschenhandel@bmi.gv.at.

  • 4. EU AND INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

    Austria is actively involved in international cooperation in this area. As the host country for many international organisations with headquarters in Vienna, Austria has had a role in increasing interaction and creating synergies between these bodies.For example, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) organized an event entitled UN.GIFT – Vienna Forum to Fight Human Trafficking in Vienna in February 2008, with support from the Austrian government.

    A large number of international activities aim to improve the situation for victims in their countries of origin. In this context, South East Europe is one of the priority regions for the Austrian Development Cooperation and Cooperation with Eastern Europe/Austrian Development Agency (OEZA/ADA). The activities of this agency include awareness-raising for the local population; measures to improve the socio-economic situation of particularly high-risk groups; training of law enforcement officers; and support and assistance for the return of trafficked victims.

    The Federal Ministry of the Interior uses Interpol for operational cooperation with third countries, and is engaged in several bilateral and multilateral projects and initiatives. Among others, the Federal Ministry of the Interior cooperates on a bilateral level to protect the family members of victims of trafficking in their home countries. The Ministry also undertakes the training of law enforcement officers to identify and protect possible victims of trafficking in third countries.

    Furthermore, the government of Austria works closely with Austria-based foreign representations of countries of origin.  In this context, the inclusion of the topic of human trafficking in consular staffs’ training curriculum and the dissemination of information folders in the respective national language at the Austrian representations abroad contribute to raising awareness of human trafficking before issuing a visa to third country nationals.

    Future plans in terms of implementation of the directive 2011/36/EU

    Austria has already implemented most of the provisions of Directive 2011/36/EU in domestic law. It is, however, necessary to amend section 104a of the Austrian Criminal Code in order to increase some of the penalties and to expand the notion of exploitation in line with the directive. The draft bill is expected to pass Parliament shortly.

  • 5. RESOURCES
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