Assisting Children Traumatised by Police (ACT-P)

Last November, one of the largest ever police operations was carried out across Austria. 60 raids led by more than 930 security personnel targeted 30 Muslim homes. Doors were broken down, windows were smashed. 

However, no one was arrested. No one has been charged. All are innocent. 
More than 60 children have been left traumatised from the events of that night. They are still yet to receive any psychological support from the state. Their rights as children have been violated.
They need our support. We need answers.

Join us in demanding why the Government failed to protect our children. Read the open letter to Minister Nehammer and contact people of authority 


Dear Minister of the Interior Karl Nehammer,
CC: Dear Vice Chancellor & Representative of the Minister of Justice Werner Kogler,
CC: Dear Chancellor Sebastian Kurz,
CC: Dear Ombudsman Walter Rosenkranz, 
We write to you as civil society actors, as well as legal representatives of those impacted by Operation Luxor in order to raise concerns about legal violations - especially children’s rights violations. The families of the innocent people that have been violated during this operation and indeed the public at large, have a right to know the facts in relation to the conduct of the operation and its conformity to Austrian and International law. We demand accountability of those responsible for their neglect of obligations to protect children from criminalisation and trauma.
On 9 November 2020, the BVT (Ministry for the Protection of the Constitution and Counter Terrorism) under your direction, conducted Operation Luxor, the costliest operation in Austria’s history:
  • The raids were carried out simultaneously at about 70 apartments and homes across four Austrian federal states at 5 am in a coordinated action mobilising 930 people including police officers, special unit agents and constitutional protection officials.​
  • ​Most of those targeted were families. To date, none of those raided have been formally charged nor arrested.
  • ​No weapons nor firearms were seized during the raids.
  • However, very serious children’s rights violations took place in contravention of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
  • ​Over 62 children, were traumatised and victimized through the first series of raids. Some were even as young as ten days old.
  • ​Children affected by the raids reported the psychological violence perpetrated by highly armed police officers and agents. 93.8% of children reported suffering from ongoing psychological trauma as a result of the raids, with some even showing early signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Parents have reported that their children continue to have severe nightmare and suffer from insomnia and scream as well as crying at night.
  • ​81.3% of parents reported that they could identify serious changes in their children, including issues such as depression and anxiety as a result of the raids.
  • ​Austrian media reports mention that at least 58 formal appeals have been lodged by the individuals targeted in Operation Luxor.
Police officials entered the homes by force at 5am, breaking down doors and windows. In most cases, the raids lasted around 8 hours.
  • In one case, a young boy reported being woken up by a heavily armed police officer, wearing a balaclava, standing in front of his bed shouting, “target spotted”. The boy stressed that “he was wearing a mask too, so I only saw his eyes. My first thought was that he was a mother came and tried to calm me down, but I was shaking so badly that my teeth chattered. I couldn't stop, I was afraid, panicked, shocked...everything. I woke up and someone was pointing a gun and screamed at me…”
  • ​Another boy reported that after being woken up by a police officer, a gun was pointed at him while he was forced to lie on the floor for over half an hour. During the entire time, no explanation of what was happening was provided to him. Every time he tried to look up, the police officer would force his head down again with the tip of his gun.
  • ​A girl with heart disease reported that the stress and fear she experienced triggered breathing difficulties. The same girl reported that the police only allowed her to use the toilet with the door open. This humiliating act deeply invaded her privacy. Her older sister mentioned that the police allowed her to use the toilet with the door closed, proving the arbitrary abuse of power. Both girls added that the police confiscated their as well as their entire family’s computers and phones, hence ending their possibility to participate in distance learning. “I never felt so unsafe, especially in my own home”, the younger sisters reported. Most harmful to her was the way the police chose to storm their house, again with no explanation of who was invading their home and on what grounds.
Most of the children's reports conclude that the initial fear they had in the first moments of the raids was due to the belief that it was terrorists that had invaded their homes. These children experienced the operation as an act of terror.
The fact that children were treated as targets of the raids, resulting in severe psychological trauma, was in clear violation of acting within the best interests of the child (Article 3 CRC). It is the Minister’s duty to ensure these rights are not only protected, but actively promoted and that potential human rights violations are investigated.

We note, as underlined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), that “States parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure the child is protected against all forms of discrimination or punishment on the basis of the status, activities, expressed opinions, or beliefs of the child's parents, legal guardians, or family members” (CRC, Article 2.2); that “no child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his or her honour and reputation” (CRC, Article 16.1) and furthermore, that every child has the inalienable right to have his or her privacy and well-being fully respected at all stages of law enforcement.
In accordance to Article 148(a)(3) of the Federal Constitution Act, it can be argued that the Austria Ombudsman Board should be notified and involved in operations of this magnitude.
We would be grateful, if you would clarify the following questions:
  • Was the Ombudsman Board notified about the planning and conduct of Operation Luxor, as press reports and documents seen by our legal teams indicate that the planning for this began more than 18 months ago.
  • Was the Ombudsman Board or any other monitoring body involved in the preparation or monitoring of Operation Luxor or involved in following up with relevant authorities?
  • ​We have noted that none of the individuals under investigation have been charged with an offence – meaning, there is no evidence to formally accuse them of a crime. They are to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Individuals we have spoken to have reported that they were not provided with any evidence against them, nor an opportunity to see what accusations they were facing for almost three months (until 22nd January 2021). This suggests a gross violation of their Due Process rights and their ability to face a fair trial. Can you confirm that the individuals under investigation were not denied their legal rights to access the files against them?
In light of the concerns noted above, we urge the Minister look into the issues raised and respond to us as a matter of urgency:
  • Investigate the operation and assign this task to independent bodies to ensure objectivity and prevent bias;
  • Hold the responsible authorities and individuals to account;
  • ​Officially and formally issue a public commitment to investigate children’s rights violations that occurred during the raids on 9 November;
  • ​Ensure that complaints about police misconduct are promptly and thoroughly investigated by an independent external authority.
We stress that rights violations of children belonging exclusively to one religious minority, are not compatible with human rights obligations nor democratic principles. Therefore, this is a critical moment for the protection of children’s rights in Austria.
We await your response to this critical matter. We welcome the opportunity to discuss these concerns and recommendations with you.

Black Voices Volksbegehren
Dokustelle - Islamfeindlichkeit und Antimuslimischer Rassismus
BJV -Bundes Jugend Vertretung
MJÖ - Muslimische Jugend Österreich 

Lawyers representing the impacted ones:
Mag. Andreas Schweitzer: representing four impacted


We urge every concerned citizen, association, organization and NGO concerned about the welfare of children to support this initiative. To keep updated on developments, please sign up to our email list here 
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