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Austria’s News in English: March 11 – 17

Welcome to the latest edition of MyExpatCommunity’s Austrian news feature! Here we’ll provide you with snippets of the most important Austrian news of the last couple of weeks so you can stay up to date.

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1. Preventative Detention Could Last up to 18 Months

The Ministry of Justice has presented its draft for preventative detention.  Article 2 paragraph 7 on personal freedom would receive an extension. The goal of the government is to imprison refugees that they deem dangerous to prevent criminal acts. Currently, the only legal measurement in practice is pre-deportation detention. The requirements for this detention are however not arrested on suspicion, but that the refugee in question will be being deported soon and a risk that he or she might flee exists.

For the preventative detention, potential deportation is inevitable, but the time frame wouldn’t have to be imminent. This would allow the government to lock up “dangerous” refugees, that they cannot deport immediately, as their security is threatened in their home country. To implement these changes, a passage in the constitution will need to be changed. Currently, it states that an arrest is possible to secure intended deportation or extradition. The change the government wants is to delete the word “intended.” Instead, the article would be extended by a passage handling procedural guarantees and legal protection regulations.

These would include the compulsory step of a judge evaluating the danger estimation by the authorities up to 48 hours after imprisonment. Another point is the length of the detention. Primarily the government is speaking of six months, but in cases of higher risks the time period can be extended up to 18 months. These suggestions, however, are currently just talking points and have not been written as legal proposal yet. The government has invited the opposition for talks, both Neos and SPÖ have stated however that they will not be open to negotiations. This is due to the murder of Dornbirn having not been completely resolved.

Source: Der Standard

2. Youth demonstrations against climate change

On March 15, children and young adults all over the world protested for changing global policies on climate change. In Austria, most students gathered at the Heldenplatz in Vienna, joined in a march that led past several Ministry buildings. The event organizers had registered up to 1,000 participants. There were no roadblocks planned, but the police had stated that there would be traffic obstructions.

The students met between 10 and 11 am on five different locations throughout the city and then marched to Heldenplatz. The demonstration at Heldenplatz officially started at noon and then moved around the Ring and past several Ministries until it finished at 4 pm at the Ministry of Transport. Since there is no official law concerning demonstration rights for students, those who participated will fall under the act of truancy (missing school for no good reason). Austrian schools dealt with a school-to-school, student-to-student basis on how to react to these circumstances.

Source: Der Standard/Die Presse

3. Higher Regional Court revokes Sigi Maurer verdict

(c) APA

The Higher Regional Court Vienna has revoked the verdict in the case Craft Beer Shop Owner vs. Sigi Maurer. Maurer had lost the original court ruling at the Vienna Regional Court in 2018 and had filed an appeal. The case revolved around obscene and sexist messages that Maurer had received via Facebook from the account of the beer seller, who operates a shop in the 8th district. She had proceeded to post the messages and out the full name of the man on social media. The beer seller had sued Maurer for defamation, and disputes to have sent the messages. Maurer has been sentenced to a fee of 3,000 Euro and an additional 4,000 Euro to be paid to the Craftbeer man due to offense caused.

The Higher Regional Court, however, had reservations about the verdict of the Regional Court, by stating that the accused had failed to prove that the plaintiff had sent these messages himself. The ruling stated that the Regional Court didn’t value the fact enough that these messages had been sent from the private Facebook account of the plaintiff and ignored the fact that in judging these proofs of truth, real-life practicalities had to be respected. The Regional Court had, therefore, set the bar for any proof of truth unattainably high, demanding that Maurer should have observed journalistic principles of check and double-check to verify the sender’s authenticity.

Furthermore, the Higher Regional Court stated that the plaintiff had failed to prove in a coherent way how anyone else could have sent and written these messages. The theoretical possibility alone is not an argument . He had further failed to name any other author. The statement then further elaborated on how given the proven facts, it would have been impossible for an anonymous person to have enough time to write these messages while simultaneously keeping a lookout for the Craft Beer seller returning  and be noticed by the other patrons at the shop. The case has now be tried again at court.

Source: Der Standard

4. Smoking ban: Constitutional Court decision adjourned

With the smoking ban in Austria moving from the parliament to the Constitutional Court (VfGH), a verdict will not happen anytime soon. A spokesman for the court has announced that the discussion will move to June.

The smoking ban debate had moved to the Constitutional Court after the ÖVP-FPÖ had revoked a law that would have made Austria indoor smoke-free as of May 1, 2018. The court already held a session on the issue in December 2018, a statement on the status of a possible ban was then scheduled for March. The case was brought to the court by a 16-year old and her father as well as the provincial government of Vienna who asked the court to revoke the retraction of the smoking ban law.

Source: Die Presse

5. House of Austrian History looking for ideas for the “Hitler balcony”

The House of Austrian History (HdGÖ) is looking for ideas for the usage of the commonly known “Hitler Balcony” at the Neue Burg on Heldenplatz. The balcony has been a controversial witness of a time period ever since Adolf Hitler declared the annexation of Austria there on March 15, 1938. The submissions are exhibited on an online platform, the best-rated ones will be discussed in autumn during an event. The House of Austrian History is looking for drawings, collages, montages or pictures of scenes that could take place on the balcony. The submissions can be uploaded to heldenplatz.hdgoe.at.

Source: Der Standard

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