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Basic right "freedom of assembly"

The fundamental right of freedom of assembly is protected under constitutional and European law. However, restrictions by the authorities are possible and a meeting must be reported.

Due to the current COVID-19 legislation, special provisions apply to individual points.

1. General

Freedom of assembly is a fundamental right and is therefore subject to special constitutional protection. The freedom of assembly is guaranteed by Article 12 of the State Basic Law (StGG) and Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) (a further legal basis can be found in Article 12 Charter of Fundamental Rights).

Assembly term

Art 12 StGG, Art 11 ECHR and the Assembly Act do not have a legal definition of the term “assembly”. According to the established case law of the Constitutional Court, one of them is organized or spontaneous To understand the gathering of several people, if this is designed with the intention of bringing those present to a common work (Debate, discussion, manifestation, etc.) to bring, so that some association of those who have come together arises. To determine the presence of a meeting, the respective individual case must be taken into account.

According to the case law, the scope of protection of Art 11 ECHR is wider than that of Art 12 StGG and the Assembly Act. Article 11 of the ECHR protects all gatherings of people that are commonly regarded as assemblies, i.e. every organized, one-off association of several people with a common goal at a specific location. For example, a ceremony to unveil a memorial falls under the protection of Art 11 ECHR, but not under Art 12 StGG.

Danger: The passing on of information to passers-by does not in itself fulfill the concept of a gathering.

Interference with freedom of assembly

The freedom of assembly according to Art 12 StGG is subject to a design reservation. This empowers the ordinary legislature to enact an implementing law. The Assembly Act was passed on this basis.

Statutory barriers, which are laid down in the Assembly Act, may only move within the substantive legal reservation of Art 11 (2) ECHR. They must therefore be provided for by law and be necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national and public security, the maintenance of order and crime prevention, the protection of health and morality, or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. The legislature may therefore restrict the freedom of assembly only to the extent that the measures to be taken are proportionate, ie. are in the public interest and are suitable, necessary and adequate to achieve the objectives.

2. Regulations of the Assembly Act

scope of application

The following are excluded from the scope of the Assembly Act:

  • public amusements, wedding procession, customary celebrations or elevators, funeral ceremonies, pilgrimages, processions and traditional religious practices
  • Meetings of voters for election meetings or meetings with elected representatives at election times in premises.
Danger: The respective state event laws may apply to this, but not the assembly law. Also from one society Meetings held are subject to the Assembly Act only insofar as this applies to closed events with restrictions.

Meeting display

General assemblies that do not open to loaded Guests are restricted, which means participants who are invited personally and individually by the organizer and whose access is also monitored, must be written in writing no later than 48 hours before the planned meeting date of the authority to display. The purpose is to disclose the place and time to the authority. The intended participation of representatives of foreign states, international organizations and other subjects of international law must also be reported. In this case, the notification must be received by the authorities at least one week before the planned meeting.

Upon request, the authority must issue a certificate of the notification made.

Danger: This regulation does not apply to Association meetings, as these are treated like meetings with invited guests.

Barriers to Assembly

  • Out factual It is up to the competent authorities to check whether the gathering contravenes the criminal laws (e.g. because of a violation of the National Socialist Prohibition Act or because of property damage, breach of the peace, bodily harm) or whether its holding is contrary to public safety (e.g. long-term, extreme disruption of road traffic) or endangers the public good (e.g. excessive noise). In any case, a prohibition is only possible under the conditions of Art 11 (2) ECHR (see above). The authority can prohibit an assembly that serves the political activities of third-country nationals and runs counter to recognized international legal principles or obligations under international law, the fundamental democratic values ​​or foreign policy interests of the Republic of Austria. If the participation of a representative of a foreign state at such an assembly is planned, the prohibition of the assembly is incumbent on the federal government.
  • Out local During the sessions of the National Council, the state parliaments, the Federal Assembly and the Federal Council, open-air meetings are directly prohibited by law within a 300 m radius of the seat of these institutions.
  • In order to be able to guarantee the unhindered course of a meeting, the authority has to take precautionary measures to protect the meeting, for example from counter-demonstrations. For this purpose, a protection area of ​​a maximum of 150 meters must be defined around a meeting.
  • In more personal There are bans on participation in meetings by armed persons; Carrying other objects that are suitable for the use of force against people or things (e.g. poles, stones) is also prohibited. A masking ban applies to the participants and there is also a ban on taking objects with them for these purposes.
  • From an organizational point of view, it should be noted that the chairman of the meeting and his stewards must ensure that order is maintained during the meeting and must immediately counter illegal actions / statements. If he can no longer assert himself against the meeting participants, he must request official assistance or dissolve the meeting himself. Foreign citizens are not allowed to act as meeting organizers, stewards or leaders.

Official intervention

If a meeting is already taking place, the authority has resolution to intervene if it is being organized unlawfully, if unlawful processes occur, or if the assembly assumes a character that threatens public order. As a result, all those present have to leave the meeting place immediately and part. To enforce this dissolution order, the authority can also use appropriate Coercive means use and also to Arrests to grab.

Danger:The mere violation of the obligation to notify, e.g. in the case of spontaneous meetings, does not in itself justify the dissolution of a meeting. There must be special circumstances that endanger one of the protected interests listed in Article 11, Paragraph 2 of the ECHR.


Assembly authority is the District administrative authority, in the sphere of action of a state police directorate, this. The regional administrative court decides on complaints against notices.

For violations of the Assembly Act, there is a risk of administrative penalties of up to six weeks in arrest or a fine of up to EUR 720. Anyone who takes part in a meeting in violation of the ban on masking and the ban on weapons will be punished by the ordinary court with imprisonment of up to 6 months or with a fine of up to 360 daily rates.