Strengthen rights of asylum-seekers, women and disabled, Austria told

Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights has asked Austria’s authorities to strengthen rights of asylum-seekers, women and the disabled.

Mr. Muižnieks who has just concluded his three-day visit to Austria, met with asylum seekers, including unaccompanied children, families and single mothers, in the Federal Reception Centre East at Traiskirchen.

“Living conditions of asylum-seekers in Austria are good in general. However, improvements should be considered to ensure that quality legal counselling is available at all stages of the asylum procedure and to broaden asylum seeker’s access to work,” said Mr. Muižnieks said.

He noted that basic needs are satisfied and welcomed that the authorities are considering giving young asylum seekers access to vocational training and apprenticeships.

Commissioner Muižnieks also focused on the protection of women’s rights. He welcomed Austria’s progress towards ratification of the Istanbul Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, which is foreseen for the autumn.

He also stressed the need for recent measures adopted with a view to promoting gender equality and closing the gender pay gap to be vigorously implemented and closely evaluated.

The Commissioner welcomed the strengthening of the Austrian Ombudsman Board by integrating the National Human Rights Advisory Board as an important step towards a more coherent human rights protection system in Austria. “It is particularly noteworthy that this reform is supported by substantial resources to fulfil the new tasks in acting as an independent mechanism for the prevention of torture, thus ensuring domestic scrutiny of all places of detention,” Commissioner Muižnieks said. “Further reflection is now needed on the strengthening of the legal and institutional framework against discrimination, including how equality bodies could be better integrated into the current human rights protection system and made more effective.”

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