The Second Protection Against Violence Act, effective as of 1 June 2009, is another important step towards improving the protection of victims in Austria.
The most important changes are as follows:
- The offence of "persistent perpetration of violence (fortgesetzte Gewaltausübung)", contained in section 107b StGB, examines acts of violence in their entirety within the scope of sustained violent offences, providing for more draconic punishment - e.g. serious threat of violence, physical violence and duress, as well as maltreatments without resulting bodily injury (e.g. slap in the face).
- The law provides for a prison sentence of up to three years. However, offences committed under aggravating circumstances can be punished by imprisonment from 10-20 years.
- The validity of a barring order imposed by the police was extended from ten days to two weeks. If within this period the affected person applies for an interim injunction, the validity of the barring order is now extended to a total of four weeks (previously 20 days).
- The option to apply for a court injunction that orders the perpetrator to leave the apartment and forbids him to return to the apartment is now open to all individuals living in this apartment. The name of this protection order is "Protection against violence in apartments (Schutz vor Gewalt in Wohnungen)". This option was previously open only to closely related individuals. The court can now issue this injunction for a period of up to six months (previously up to three months). What has remained the same is the regulation that in the event of the opening of main proceedings (e.g. divorce proceedings), the validity of the injunction is extended to cover the period up to the termination of the proceedings.
- The option to apply for a court injunction banning the perpetrator from staying in certain places or meeting or contacting the victim has now been regulated separately in the interim injunction under the title "General protection against violence". This injunction can be applied for by any person who cannot be expected to tolerate any further encounters with the perpetrator (this option was previously open only to closely related persons). The court can issue this injunction for a period of up to one year (previously up to three months). If the perpetrator fails to comply with this injunction, its validity can be extended.
- The interim injunction for the "Protection against invasion of privacy" (stalking) can now be issued with regard to all stipulated measures - irrespective of the opening of main proceedings - for up to one year, with the option of extending its validity in the event of non-compliance by the perpetrator. This injunction can now be filed for in the court of the victim's residence (previously in the court of the perpetrator's residence).
- The limitation period for (sexual) violence offences against minors was extended by the Second Protection Against Violence Act and further extended until completion of the victim's 18th year.
- The protection afforded by criminal law to sexual integrity was enhanced further (increase of sanctions, criminal liability for watching child pornography on the internet, improved possibilities for judicial monitoring of sexual offenders, tightened provisions regulating criminal registers and extension of disclosure options).
- The procedural rights of the victims were improved (better protection of the victim's address, optional gentle questioning in a civil action that is related to criminal proceedings).
- The psychosocial assistance during proceedings was extended to civil proceedings (related to the offence) between victims and perpetrators (e.g. action for damages). Expenses amounting to 800 euro - 1,200 euro if the victim is eligible for legal aid - will be taken in charge by the state. If the victim is eligible for legal aid, she/he can claim free legal assistance during civil proceedings.
- Under an amendment to the Crime Victims Compensation Act, the Federal Social Office pays damages to victims of violence - 1,000 euro to victims of serious bodily injuries, 5,000 euro to victims of serious bodily injuries with permanent consequences.
For more information, please click here.
Source of Information
Update to the Response of the Government of Austria; Website of the Government of Austria