The Administrative Court justifies with a very biased explanation the total sanction of the means-tested minimum income and systematically flouts human rights
(Vienna/Graz, 13th April 2016) The Supreme Court 10, in charge of the means-tested minimum income, has swept away the human right of social security respectively the human right of livelihood with a stroke in a decree published last week and which reminds of class justice, and has put an extremely dangerous weapon into the hands of Austrian bureaucracy: just because in the Ministry of Social Security in the annotations to article 15a, agreement on the means-tested minimum income, it is declared that the means-tested minimum income “just doesn’t represent an unconditional basic income”, it is said to be possible according to the higher administrative court to cut the whole contribution for covering the daily costs without any further scruples and to expose human beings in the middle of rich Austria to the danger of starving.
Austria’s authorities and judges rage much worse than is the case with Hartz IV!
The Austrian higher administrative court acts considerably more cold-bloodedly in this matter than Hartz IV in Germany: it doesn’t even mention that there is something like human rights and that authorities – just like in Germany as well – would be under the obligation to make sure at least by means of contributions in kind that the survival of human beings, who depend on the ultimate securing of their livelihood, is guaranteed. According to the lawyer Herbert Pochieser, who also specialized in the law of the poor and the unemployed, the Supreme Court 10 has already given several times the impression of having a harassing administration of justice against recipients of income support1 and therefore has to be called a persistent offender.
In the concrete case it’s about a homeless person, obviously shaken by fate, who at the beginning went along with everything like a good boy, even an extensive “medical, psychological and social-workerly clearing” by which a restricted ability to work was diagnosed. Within the framework of an “auxiliary plan” the authority then has prescribed the person in need of help and obviously shattered many times, a pretty comprehensive programme reaching deeply into privacy, which was simply too much at a blow:
“utilization of a regular neuropsychiatric and psychotherapeutic treatment
learning of strategies of coping with stress, outpatient special consultation for alcoholics
care within the framework of a certain and known work integration attempt
consultation concerning the providing with a dwelling place by a certain and known social institution
medical check at the eye specialist
outpatient physical therapies.”
The fact that the European Human Rights Convention is in the constitutional law in Austria, which should protect the personal sphere and physical integrity and thus from compulsory treatments, and cannot be annulled by a simple regional law, is apparently of no concern, not in the least, to the supreme court, when it comes to justifying encroachments of the authorities.
The mayor of Salzburg – where vice-mayor Anja Hagenauer of the Austrian Social Party (SPÖ) is in charge of the social department – pronounced as the responsible authority a cutback of the living expenses by 99% and granted the homeless man in poor health 6.10 euros for survival. The fact that the state administration court reduced this extreme cutback to “just only” 87.5% and calculated 76.31 euros per month as sufficient for the homeless man for survival, because this is the means-tested minimum income charge for people in nursing homes, was too much still for the desktop administrators. For the province of Salzburg – where Heinrich Schellhorn of the Green Party is a social member of the provincial government – this leniency of the state administration court was too much of a good thing and demanded the full toughness of the law in a “regular appeal”.
Hocus-pocus administration of justice makes the constitutional state disappear as if by magic
The administrative court judges resort to juridical magic tricks uninhibitedly and deduce from the allegation that there is no restriction of cutbacks of incomes provided for in the Land law, that everything for securing the livelihood can be taken away at will. Apart from this they take the right to just decide in this matter themselves without any further explanation and to simply pronounce the cutback by 99% demanded from the state administration court, without investigating the question whether unconstitutional compulsory treatments can be prescribed just for kicks, whether the compulsory measures prescribed by the authority were reasonable at all or suitable, or whether the person concerned was at all in the position to safeguard and demand his interests in front of the all-powerful authority on account of his obviously shattered state of health.
The reconstrual of the means-tested minimum income law of Salzburg is especially impudent, even though the primacy of support is enacted in paragraph 1 cited by the judges themselves: “The aim of this law is to avoid and fight poverty and social exclusion of people who are therefore in need of help by the community, by the promotion of a permanent (re)integration of these people into working life.”
Almost in accordance with the “spirit of Orwell”, the “promotion” turns into a totalitarian demand to which the people unconditionally have to submit to.
It’s also worrying that the administrative court judges don’t concede to the national lawmakers to enact more favourable laws for the people concerned, because the explanations of the framework rules, which explicitly only codifies minimum standards for the purposes of the people concerned, are taken in order to get through changes for the worse condescendingly through the courts!
Fair proceedings obviously didn’t take place. There is no indication in the decision that the higher administrative court had given the person concerned the opportunity to comment on the appeal of the provincial government, let alone that he was given a legal representation in the course of a procedure support or that an oral hearing would have taken place. The high judges are rather looking for everything which incriminates the complainant and de facto turn him into a defendant from a language point of view, who “is only partially ready to… comply with the instructions” and then treat him like an object without rights, whom the supreme courts don’t even grant the “cover of the absolutely necessary human basic needs”.
The people acting like executioners quite incidentally reveal themselves to be functional illiterates, because they show no understanding for the unconditional basic income at all, neither from a political point of view nor by saying. Unlike the means-tested minimum income, the unconditional basic income namely, is paid every human being unconditionally without applying for it and is paid in addition to the income and has to secure the livelihood. This is why 76.31 euros per month, granted to people who don’t have an income and who have applied for it which was then granted after a test procedure, are not nearly an unconditional basic income, because this granted money is attached to several conditions.
The new system of administrative jurisdiction becomes a deadly boomerang for people seeking for help
Thus the new system of administrative jurisdiction obviously becomes a boomerang for those subject to law: the first authority only has to make use of the new possibility of an appeal, in order to take action against decrees by the state administration courts, decrees which are not convenient to the first authority, without giving the people seeking for help the chance of being able to fight against it when they can’t afford a lawyer.
The persistent criticism of the criticism put forward to the UNO, that the Austrian courts don’t make use of the human rights in the verdicts and that human rights don’t matter in the education of judges2, apparently is of no interest as ever to the class of the highest court judges well-paid at the expense of the people. So this is the case, although the human rights ratified by Austria have been passed as a federal law and have been published, and the European Union even has introduced a charter of fundamental rights.
With that the higher administrative court confirms the conclusion, which is a good ten years old, of constitutional law expert, university professor Ewald Wiederin, about the enforceability of social human rights in Austria: “Indeed, Austria belongs to the last states on earth who can let their citizens and inhabitants starve without a breach of the constitution.”3
Politicians and judges are responsible for the massive violence in the state!
The fact that ex-minister of Social Security Rudolf Hundstorfer of the former workers’ party, politicially responsible for this programme of existential destruction and other severe violations of human rights, now reaches for the “highest office” in the republic of Austria, just shows all too clearly the moral decline in this state. Not only refugees are deprived of their rights, but also the own citizens, if these are not needed anymore by the all-powerful economy.
The fact that president and vice-president of the administrative court are appointed by the government, that is, by the ruling parties, and these have a good say in the selection of new judges and many judges can be located as far as party politics go, further rounds off the the portrayal of the customs and morals of the banana republic of Austria. So the “independent administration of justice”, sworn on oath by the administrative court on its own website, is a fairy-tale. It’s a good question how these supreme judges want to take responsibility for that and how they want to make up for the damage for which they are jointly responsible, when the authorities – as has been the case for years in Great Britain – drive the people into their death by cutbacks in incomes and by total income sanctions, be it because they starve helplessly to death or commit suicide out of desperation.
‘Active Unemployed Austria’ demands:
Social human rights should finally be in the constitutional law as well as a ratification of the supplementary minutes to the UN agreement on social measures, which makes individual appeals to the UNO possible.
Abolition of the harassing sanction regime because the means-tested minimum income is 200 euros below the poverty line! In particular, as long as economy and politics disregard the human right of freely chosen work, on account of the ever-increasing mass unemployment which is accountable to economy and politics!
Fast and further training of the supreme court judges and administrative court judges with regard to human rights and constitutional principles.
Disciplinary actions for judges who destroy the fundamental right of securing the livelihood!
At our inquiry to the social member of the provincial government, Heinrich Schellhorn of the Green Alternative, requesting a statement on the harassing appeal of the province of Salzburg, we unfortunately haven’t got a reply yet.
1 Against human dignity by law? Supreme Court 10 of the Administrative Court cuts back means-tested minimum income of people in partnership, even if the partner cannot contribute anything
2 See also: Social human rights: UNO criticizes PES sanctions, low means-tested minimum income and missing participation of the people concerned
3 Ewald Wiederin: Umverteilung und Existenzsicherung durch Sozialversicherungsrecht. In: Benjamin Kneihs/Georg Lienbacher/Ulrich Runggladier (Hrsg.): Wirtschaftssteuerung durch Sozialversicherung, 2005.