Fundamental rights and freedoms
Fundamental rights and freedoms have always been of the utmost importance and continue to be accorded high priority in the Austrian constitution. When the Federal Constitution Law was adopted in 1920, the fundamental rights and freedoms as laid down in 1867 were incorporated and to this day form part of the Austrian constitution. Because the individual political parties represent very different basic values, the democratic republic has not yet succeeded in compiling a modern, comprehensive list of fundamental rights. Most fundamental rights apply not only to Austrian citizens but also to foreigners and stateless persons, i.e. they are basic human rights. Among them are the inviolability of property, individual freedom, the right to fair trial, the right to privacy in the home, the privacy of correspondence, freedom of expression, freedom of the press, freedom of faith and conscience and the freedom of science and its teachings.
Within the context of international organisations, particularly the United Nations and the Council of Europe, Austria participates to a high degree in the further development of human rights. The European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights has been in force in Austria since 1958; in 1964 it was incorporated entirely into the constitution. It contains, inter alia, the right to life, the prohibition of torture as well as of inhuman and humiliating punishment, the prohibition of forced labour, prohibition of the deportation of Austrian citizens, the freedom to emigrate, respect of private and family life and the right to marry and have a family.
Among the fundamental rights, special political significance is accorded to the protection of minorities, as embodied in the State Treaty of St. Germain (1919) and the State Treaty of Vienna (1955).
Fundamental social rights are laid down in Austria only in a general legal context but are not anchored in the Constitution. These rights are based on the European Social Charter and the UN Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.