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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Amnesty criticizes planned reporting point for police violence

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Official action against climate protection activists in Vienna: Complaints office against police violence is being planned.
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An independent complaints office with investigative powers that investigates suspected cases of police violence: In October 2020, the Ministry of the Interior announced the creation of such an institution for the first half of 2021. Yesterday, coalition representatives from the VP and the Greens announced details of the new “Investigation and Complaints Office for Allegations of Mistreatment”.

Justice Minister Alma Zadic spoke of a “real paradigm shift in dealing with allegations of violence and abuse by the police”. Victims of police violence would “finally have the opportunity to turn to a body outside the traditional police structure.” Allegations should be dealt with “seriously, thoroughly and immediately”.

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That not only helps the victims, but also relieves unjustly suspected police officers who were not guilty of anything, and thus strengthens the trust of the population, said Zadic.

The new complaints office is to be located in the Federal Office for Combating Corruption (BAK), which reports to the Ministry of the Interior.

Criticism came immediately. It is “extremely problematic” to set up a supposedly independent complaints office in the Ministry of the Interior, since the office is under the minister’s authority to issue directives and therefore does not meet the criterion of independence, says Annemarie Schlack, Managing Director of Amnesty International Austria. Similarly, the Neos: “It must be ensured that independent investigations can be carried out. However, this is not the case if the complaints office is located in the BAK, which has been bled dry in terms of staff,” criticizes Deputy Stephanie Krisper.

Zadic replied that it was “ensured that instructions are always given in writing”. They didn’t want to create an ombudsman’s office, but an institution with police powers – arrests, seizures and house searches – standing outside the police structures. The budget is initially 4.5 million euros, and branch offices in the federal states are also planned.

Order mode unclear

It is unclear how the head of the new position is to be appointed. Georg Bürstmayr, safety spokesman for the Greens, said that this would be headed by a deputy director of the BAK, who would be appointed for a period of ten years. Amnesty expresses “great concern that the implementation of the position is inadequate”.

The investigation and complaints office is to be controlled by an “independent advisory board”. Five of the 13 members are said to come from non-governmental organizations. These are to be proposed by the justice and interior ministries.

Source: Nachrichten

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