Josef B v Regional Authority of Styria [Austria, Administrative Court.]

JurisdictionAustria
CourtAdministrative Court (Austria)
Austria, Administrative Court.

(Penzinger, President; Kadecka, Skorjanec, Rath and Jurasek, Judges)

Josef B
and
Regional Authority of Styria1

The individual in international law Nationality Naturalization Conditions of eligibility for Effect on eligibility of prior conviction for high treason committed against applicant's national State during Second World War Naturalization likely to be detrimental to standing of naturalizing State abroad Relevance of attitude of foreign public opinion The law of Austria

Summary: The facts:The complainant, a Swiss citizen who had lived in Austria since 1954, applied to become a naturalized Austrian citizen.2 His application was rejected on two grounds by the Austrian authorities. Firstly, although he met the residence requirements under the Austrian Nationality Law, in 1946 he had been convicted of high treason and sentenced to twenty years' imprisonment in Switzerland for fostering contacts with Nazi Germany designed to undermine Swiss independence and this was held to constitute a bar to naturalization under the Nationality Law. The relevant provisions permitted naturalization only for those foreigners who had not been validly sentenced to more than six months' imprisonment by a foreign court for an act also judicially punishable under domestic law. Secondly, it was held that the complainant's naturalization might result in a Swiss public outcry against the Austrian legal order which could compromise the interests and standing of Austria. Such a possibility was also a bar to the grant of citizenship under the Nationality Law. The complainant appealed against the decision to the Administrative Court.

Held:The appeal was dismissed.

(1) With regard to the offence of high treason committed against a foreign State, the specific acts for which the complainant had been sentenced in Switzerland did not constitute a punishable offence under the Austrian Penal Code and were not, therefore, also punishable under domestic law.

(2) The defendant authority had, however, been entitled to conclude from the facts that the naturalization of the complainant might, in view of his criminal record of national socialist activities, compromise the standing of Austria not only in Switzerland but in other States as well, by reason of the unfavourable public response abroad which it was likely to evoke.

The following is a summary of the formal opening paragraph of the judgment:

Dr Josef B of Graz brought a complaint against the decision of the regional authority of Styria of 15 September 1969 concerning his application for Austrian citizenship.

[The following is the text of the judgment of the Court:]

[The Administrative Court] holds as follows:

The complaint is rejected as unfounded

Grounds of the judgment

In reliance on Article 10(1)...

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