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2017-2021 ARCHIVED CONTENT

You are viewing ARCHIVED CONTENT released online from January 20, 2017 to January 20, 2021.

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AUSTRIA: Tier 1

The Government of Austria fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government continued to demonstrate serious and sustained efforts during the reporting period; therefore Austria remained on Tier 1. These efforts included implementing the national referral mechanism for adults, increasing funding for victim support, and publishing guidelines for police and prosecutors on non-punishment of victims for unlawful acts traffickers compelled them to commit. Although the government meets the minimum standards, courts continued to issue light or suspended penalties for convicted traffickers. The government has not appointed an anti-trafficking rapporteur, and the government did not identify any victims holding Austrian citizenship in 2018.

PRIORITIZED RECOMMENDATIONS

Sentence convicted traffickers to adequate penalties, which should involve significant prison terms, consistent with those imposed for other grave crimes, such as rape. • Continue to strengthen cooperation with source country governments to promote awareness of trafficking among potential victims, especially in continued prosecution of trafficking rings. • Increase the level of detail contained in the government database on trafficking investigations, prosecutions, convictions and sentencing, to include all cases on trafficking including disaggregation of convictions and sentencing where defendants have committed multiple crimes. • Increase efforts to identify victims among persons engaged in prostitution. • Appoint a national anti-trafficking rapporteur. • Increase efforts on identifying potential victims among Austrian citizens.

PROSECUTION

The Austrian government maintained law enforcement efforts. Article 104a of the criminal code criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking and prescribed penalties of six months to five years’ imprisonment for offenses involving an adult victim, and one to 10 years’ imprisonment for those involving a child victim. These penalties were sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Additionally, Article 217, which criminalized all transnational prostitution, could be applied to sex trafficking cases when a trafficker induced a foreign individual to engage in prostitution by force, fraud, or coercion. The article prescribed penalties of one to 10 years’ imprisonment for offenses involving such means. The government conducted 71 investigations of 129 trafficking suspects under Article 104a, compared with 94 investigations of 144 suspects in 2017. The government prosecuted 16 trafficking defendants, compared with 19 in 2017. Courts convicted eight traffickers under Article 104a, compared with three in 2017 and 10 in 2016. The government prosecuted eight defendants, and convicted five under Article 217, but it was unclear how many involved trafficking offenses. The most recent comprehensive government data on prison sentences was from 2017, during which courts sentenced two traffickers. One received a two-year prison term and one a suspended sentence. In contrast, rape convictions carried substantially longer prison terms and fewer suspended sentences. Of 90 defendants convicted of rape during 2017, courts sentenced 78 (90 percent) to prison and half received prison terms ranging between three and 13 years. It was unclear how many rape cases included convictions for trafficking, as official statistics in multi-offense convictions contained only the single crime for which a court imposed the longest sentence. However, the government reported several cases from 2018 in which convicted traffickers received significant penalties. In March 2018, a court convicted two Chinese nationals for sex trafficking and imposed prison sentences of 3.5 years and 13 months, respectively. In May 2018, a Vienna court sentenced a Bosnian man to four years in prison for trafficking minors into forced begging and theft.

The government, assisted by an NGO, provided specialized trafficking-related training to prosecutors and judicial personnel. Law enforcement officials received training on trafficking within their standard curriculum. National and provincial governments cooperated with authorities from other countries, including neighboring EU countries, to investigate and prosecute trafficking cases. The Federal Crime Office (FCO) increased training on the use of online recruitment by traffickers and their digital methods. The Regional Criminal Court in Vienna assigned specialized prosecutors and judges for handling of trafficking cases.

PROTECTION

The government maintained protection efforts. Police and other government institutions, in cooperation with NGOs, identified and assisted 339 foreign victims in 2018, compared to 327 victims in 2017. Among that total, 28 victims were minors, and 40 victims were not identified by age. The government did not identify any victims of Austrian citizenship. The government provided €960,117 ($1.1 million) to specialized anti-trafficking NGOs to assist and house victims, an increase from €876,000 ($1 million) in 2017. The Ministry of Labor provided an additional €410,000 ($470,180) for support of NGO-run counseling centers for male trafficking victims and undocumented migrants, compared to €415,000 ($475,920) in 2017. Government funding comprised the bulk of support for these organizations. The city of Vienna funded a government-run center for unaccompanied minors, including child trafficking victims, offering legal, medical, psychological, social, and language assistance. Cities throughout the provinces provided services for child victims. For adult victims, government-funded NGOs provided emergency shelter, medical and psychological care, language support, and legal assistance. Some NGOs offered specialized services for victims with physical or mental disabilities. NGOs helped victims prepare for court proceedings and assisted foreign victims with repatriation. Courts provided sensitive interview methods for presenting evidence and testimony when victims needed protection from traffickers during the investigation and prosecution phases.

In November 2018, the Ministry of Interior (MOI) launched Austria’s national referral mechanism for adults, a framework for identifying victims, guaranteeing their rights, and ensuring they understand the availability of services and receive care. The government continued to implement the national referral mechanism for child victims launched in 2017. Government officials from multiple agencies and NGOs used guidelines and checklists to identify both child and adult victims. Under a government-funded program, NGOs trained immigration officials on victim identification, including those working at migrant reception centers. The government continued trainings in victim identification for officials in law enforcement, the labor inspectorate, the military, diplomatic services, detention and asylum centers, revenue agencies, and social service agencies.

Trafficking victims had the right to temporary residence status, with possible annual extensions. The government granted 35 residence permits and extended 10 permits to trafficking victims in 2018. Residence permits allowed victims unconditional access to employment. Government benefits were not dependent upon a victim’s willingness to participate in the prosecution of their perpetrator. Victims also had a 30-day reflection period with assistance to decide whether to assist or cooperate in criminal investigations. The Ministry of Justice reported that 150 victims provided assistance to law enforcement and prosecutors during 2018. Victims could file civil suits against traffickers for damages and compensation, even in the absence of a criminal prosecution. Upon criminal conviction, courts typically awarded restitution, including in six of the eight 2018 trafficking convictions. The government provided legal aid for victims unable to afford their own legal representation. The Ministry of Justice also published guidelines in 2018 for the non-punishment of victims for unlawful acts traffickers compelled them to commit.

PREVENTION

The government maintained efforts to prevent trafficking. A national anti-trafficking coordinator headed a broad-based task force with representatives from nine federal ministries, provincial governments, NGOs, industry, and civil society. The task force led the drafting and October 2018 adoption of the National Action Plan for 2018-2020 by the Council of Ministers. The plan called for expanded training for officers in detention centers and staff of asylum centers, with a focus on victim identification. Austria did not have an independent anti-trafficking rapporteur to evaluate the effectiveness of government efforts. The government supported distribution of publications and television programming on trafficking and child sex tourism, as well as campaigns to inform persons in prostitution. The Ministry of Labor provided an online resource for migrant workers, available in seven languages, including information on labor laws, minimum wage standards, collective agreements, and rights of workers. The MOI continued to run a 24-hour trafficking hotline that received over 500 calls, with translation available in multiple languages. Austrian embassies and consulates in source countries informed visa applicants of the potential dangers of trafficking. The foreign ministry continued efforts on preventing trafficking among employees of diplomatic households, increasing workers’ awareness of their rights, and sensitizing them to trafficking. The FCO implemented programs with China and Nigeria to combat cross-border trafficking and improve and expand joint investigations. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex. The government subsidized an NGO brochure, in 14 languages, for distribution mainly to persons working in prostitution, to increase awareness of trafficking occurring within the commercial sex industry. The government worked with business and labor organizations in awareness training on labor trafficking and continued to include trafficking in their annual training of labor inspectors that started in 2015. The government continued to enforce public procurement guidelines for the elimination of labor trafficking in the purchase of goods and services.

TRAFFICKING PROFILE

As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit foreign victims in Austria. Statistics show no Austrian citizens among victims of trafficking. Victims originate primarily from Eastern Europe, with some victims coming from South America, and increasingly from Nigeria, China, and Southeast Asia. Over 95 percent of identified victims are foreign women subjected to sex trafficking. Approximately 65 percent of trafficking victims come from EU member states. There are cases of labor exploitation of domestic household workers, including in diplomatic households, as well as construction, cleaning companies, and agriculture. Children and physically disabled persons are the primary victims of forced begging. Traffickers subject a growing number of female victims from Nigeria and China to sexual exploitation in massage parlors and brothels. Traffickers use Austria as a transit point in moving victims to other European countries.

U.S. Department of State

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