Skip to main content


Austria has comprehensive legislation in place for the prosecution of terrorist offences. Amendments to the criminal law in 2021 are alleged to have put at risk respect for the rights to freedom of religion, expression, and association.

Compliance with International Law:
Last updated: one year ago

The Definition of Terrorism in Domestic Law

Under its Penal Code, pursuant to legislation adopted in 2002, Austria defines terrorism as certain criminal acts that cause serious or long-term disruption of public life or seriously damage economic activity or which are committed for terrorist purposes (gravely intimidating the population, compelling conduct by public authorities or international organizations, or seriously disturbing the fundamental political, constitutional, economic, or social structure of a State or international organization).S. 278(c), Penal Code of Austria.

In 2021, controversial legislation was adopted against "religiously motivated extremist associations" for terrorist acts. Such an association is defined as

one that continues to attempt in an unlawful manner to replace the essential elements of the democratic constitutional basic order of the Republic with an exclusively religiously based social and state order by preventing the enforcement of laws, ordinances or other sovereign decisions or by assuming religiously based sovereign rights.S. 247(b)(3), Criminal Code of Austria.

The definition has been criticized by human rights organizations for being vaguely worded. 

Adherence to Global and Regional Terrorism Treaties


Austria is a State Party to all of the main United Nations treaties on terrorism.


Adherence to Global Terrorism Treaties
Treaty Adherence
1973 Convention on Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons State Party
1979 Hostage-Taking Convention State Party
1997 Terrorist Bombings Convention State Party
1999 Terrorist Financing Convention State Party
2005 Nuclear Terrorism Convention State Party


At regional level, Austria has ratified only some of the major European treaties on terrorism.


Adherence to European Terrorism Treaties
Treaty Adherence
1977 European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism State Party
2003 Protocol amending the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism Signatory
2005 Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism State Party
2015 Additional Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism State not party

Laws and Penalties for Terrorist Offences

A series of predicate offences may constitute terrorism if the requisite intent is proved, including murder, wounding, extortion, kidnapping, serious damage to property, air piracy, and data corruption (if this poses a risk to the life of another or widespread damage to property). A conviction for terrorism results in a sentence of imprisonment increased by one half compared to the ordinary offence.S. 278c, Penal Code of Austria.

Counterterrorism Capacities and Policies at Domestic Level

Austria has a dedicated counterterrorism unit under the control of the Ministry of Interior. The Einsatzkommando Cobra (EKO Cobra) (formerly known as Gendarmerieeinsatzkommando but renamed in 2002) was formed in 1978 in response to the terror attack on Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.


2002 Terrorism Law of Austria (German original)

2021 Counterterrorism Act (German original)