National frameworks to address hate crime in Austria

This page provides information on the national frameworks to address hate crime in Austria. The information provided here should be viewed alongside data presented on Austria's hate crime report page.

Hate crime recording and data collection

Hate crime data are collected and recorded according to specific types of crimes found in the criminal code. There is no specific system in place for the police to record hate crimes by bias motivation. In the crime recording system, hate crimes fall under the category of "politically motivated crime".

The Federal Agency for the Protection of the Constitution and Counterterrorism, together with one of the Agency's nine regional subdivisions, is responsible for investigating such cases. The Agency's Annual Report on State Security includes a section on "right-wing extremism", with overall figures categorized as "right-wing extremist", "xenophobic/racist", "anti-Semitic" and "Islamophobic" (anti-Muslim) acts, which are further grouped by type of crime (bodily harm, incitement, threat, damage to property, etc.). The Annual Report serves as the basis for different projects.

The main bias motivation attributed to an offence is based on the facts observed, including the victim's testimony, interrogation of the perpetrator, and possible further investigations. The Austrian penal code provision contains a general sentencing enhancement for a bias-motivated crime that is applicable to nearly all crimes. This provision (§33 para. 1, subpara. 5, of the Penal Code) stipulates that it is a special aggravating circumstance "when the act has been motivated by a racist, xenophobic or other particularly condemnable bias, especially those that are directed explicitly against groups, enumerated in section 283 CC, or members because of their membership to these groups."

On 1 November 2020, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) introduced a new electronic recording and data collection mechanism. Complemented by an internal police decree, providing also with a monitoring definition of a hate crime and rules related to quality management, the mechanism henceforth enables flagging potential hate crimes by recording the following bias motivations: age, handicap, gender, colour of skin, national or ethnic origin, religion (including subcategories), sexual orientation, social status and world view. An ERNST system of five bias indicators is used to identify potential hate crime. The interfaces of the police and Ministry of Justice (MoJ) databases were also synchronized so that the flagged hate crime data are also visible to prosecutors once the investigation reports are sent. An integrated report comprising hate crime data from both MoI and MoJ, based on the new recording and data collection mechanism, should be available in 2022 in respect of Austria’s 2021 hate crime data.

Most recent efforts to improve hate crime recording and data collection mechanisms in Austria are further described under "National Developments" on Austria's hate crime report page.

Hate crime victim support

Austria provides specialized support to victims of hate crime. Some victims are automatically recognized as particularly vulnerable, including those whose bodily integrity and personal autonomy were violated, victims of domestic violence and minors. Victims of hate crime do not belong to this category.

Access to victim support services in Austria is possible through multiple channels. Support services are partly financed by the state, and providers co-operate with state structures in a number of areas. Some support service providers receive additional funding through donations, and some rely on the work of volunteers. The Federal Ministry for Constitutional Affairs, Reforms, Deregulation and Justice can enter into agreements with established, suitable organizations to help fund their support to victims during criminal proceedings. The services offered include psychosocial and legal support, which are provided free of charge.

A particular role is played by the civil society organization (CSO) Weisser Ring Austria, which provides general support to all victims of crime, including those not covered by specialized victim support organizations. Weisser Ring operates an emergency helpline for victims on behalf of the Ministry of Justice. Several CSOs specifically assist hate crime victims, including the Zivilcourage und Anti-Rassismus-Arbeit (ZARA) CSO, many of which form part of national CSO networks.

Austria has a mandatory and formalized individual needs assessment (INA) procedure in place for hate crime victims. The INA identifies whether hate crime victims require enhanced protection based on their particular vulnerabilities, including age, emotional and physical well-being, and the circumstances of the crime. The results of the INA are not binding for the prosecution or the court and, in cases of doubt – such as when new facts arise – the need for protection can be re-examined and a different decision reached. If capacity allows, the victims of all crimes, including hate crimes, have the right to be interviewed by an official of the same sex and to decline to provide specific details of the crime. They also have the right to exclude the public from their main hearing, be informed about the release or escape of the perpetrator from custody, or consult a person of trust when being interviewed.

Currently, there is no formal system for referring hate crime victims to local authorities, CSOs, victim support services or national equality bodies. However, on receiving a report from a victim, police officers may refer them to specialized aid organizations or provide them with information on accessing support. Upon the victim’s request, free-of-charge psychosocial and legal support may be granted. The costs are initially borne by the respective victim support organization and later refunded by the Federal Ministry for Constitutional Affairs, Reforms, Deregulation and Justice.

According to procedural laws, a victim may participate as a private party in the proceedings to seek compensation for the damage or injury suffered. In addition, it is possible to assert further claims for damages in civil court proceedings. Under certain conditions, this also applies to compensation for psychological damage. These options are available to all victims, including victims of hate crime.

Please note that the above text may be subject to updates based on information provided by the National Point of Contact