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Austria: Protection of a Holocaust survivor’s reputation

Lewit v. Austria
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On 20 October, the Committee of Ministers ended the supervision of execution by Austria of the European Court’s judgment in Lewit, which concerned a violation of the reputation of the applicant, a 97-year-old Holocaust survivor. In defamation proceedings he had initiated, the domestic courts rejected his claims, failing to examine the central issue raised, i.e. that he had been defamed by a right-wing periodical article targeting through abusive language people, like him, liberated from the Mauthausen concentration camp.

In January 2021, the Attorney General’s (Generalprokuratur) Office lodged with the Supreme Court of Austria a plea of nullity for observance of the law (Nichtigkeitsbeschwerde zur Wahrung des Gesetzes). In June 2021, the Supreme Court found that the domestic courts had violated their statutory duty to reason their decisions denying that the applicant was affected by the impugned article, therefore violating also the applicant’s right to file a suit.

The Austrian authorities had waived their right to appeal before the Grand Chamber of the European Court in order for the judgment to become final immediately. Thus, they paid the just satisfaction awarded to the applicant by the European Court before his death in November 2020.

 Final Resolution

 Country factsheet - Austria