The Ombudsman Board assists citizens if they feel they have been treated unfairly by an Austrian authority – irrespective of their age, nationality or their place of residence. Companies, businesspeople and associations can also lodge a complaint about the public administration with the AOB.

The Austrian Ombudsman Board (AOB) has been responsible for promoting and protecting human rights in the Republic of Austria since 1 July 2012, with reference to the UN Paris Principles.

Since September 2009, the AOB has been operating the General Secretariat of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI).

Monitoring public administration

The Austrian Ombudsman Board monitors all authorities, administrative bodies and departments of the state, provinces and local government authorities. The AOB investigates complaints from citizens and assesses whether the administration is acting within the law and complies with human rights standards. If the AOB suspects maladministration, it can also act ex-officio – in other words act without a specific complaint.

Protecting and promoting human rights

Since 1 July 2012, the AOB has also been responsible for protecting and promoting compliance with human rights as part of the UN mandate.

The AOB and its commissions have been monitoring all institutions in which liberty is being or may be deprived or restricted. It also examines the institutions and programmes for persons with disabilities as well as the exercise by the administration of direct authority and the use of force, particularly during deportations and demonstrations.

National Prevention Mechanism (NPM)

The legal constitutional mandate for protecting human rights as a “National Prevention Mechanism” (NPM) is based on the UN Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

As an NPM, The AOB focuses on the following areas and issues:

  • Prevention of violence against children in foster care,
  • Safeguarding autonomy and self-determination in homes for elderly and nursing homes,
  • Right to personal freedom and right to privacy in (psychiatric) hospitals
  • Women and imprisonment
  • Right to mental and physical health

Supporting legislative authority

The impact laws actually have on people’s lives is often only evident when regulations are applied by authorities. Breaking points or shortcomings of laws often become evident when they are monitored.

The AOB incorporates these experiences into the ongoing legislative process by occasionally drawing up statements on draft laws for the evaluation procedure and submitting these statements to the Austrian Parliament or a state parliament.

The AOB also makes the legislative authority aware of existing legal provisions that are problematic and draws up suggestions for improvements in the form of legislative propositions. It is also authorised to assess the legitimacy of a regulation adopted by a federal or provincial authority. In this case, the board is able to submit an application to the Constitutional Court. The AOB is also involved in petitions and citizens’ initiatives that are addressed towards the Austrian Parliament.

International Ombudsman Institute (IOI)

Since September 2009, the Austrian Ombudsman Board (AOB) has been operating the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) General Secretariat. Secretary General is Günther Kräuter, Member of the AOB.

Heads of institution

The AOB consists of three members, who work together in a collegial way.

  • Dr. Günther Kräuter
  • Dr. Gertrude Brinek
  • Dr. Peter Fichtenbauer
    The chair changes annually at the end of June.

Website

http://volksanwaltschaft.gv.at/en

Address

Singerstrasse 17, P.O. Box 20, 1015 Vienna, Austria

Year of establishment

1977

Accreditation status

B

Year of accreditation

2011

Number of staff

90

Regional offices

NA

Mandate(s)

  • Ombuds
  • National Preventive Mechanism under OPCAT Art. 3 (NPM)
  • Monitoring body under CRPD Art 33(2)
  • Pension Commission according to the Pensions for Victims of Children‘s
  • Homes Act (since 2017)

Core functions

  • Monitoring
  • Publishing research, recommendations, opinions
  • Reporting to international and regional human rights mechanisms
  • Complaints handling
  • Advising government, parliament and other public bodies
  • Supporting the work of human rights defenders
  • Cooperation with civil society organisations
  • Human rights education and training
  • Awareness raising activities