Spindelegger: "No democratic freedom without freedom of the press"
Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger on World Press Freedom Day
Vienna, 3 May 2011 – Journalists are increasingly falling victim to targeted assaults, in particular in North Africa and the Middle East where the situation is highly critical. “Those responsible for the sometimes serious attacks on journalists are only very rarely called to account. Safeguarding the freedom of the press requires determined action by governments against the perpetrators,” stated Michael Spindelegger today to mark World Press Freedom Day.
Never before have there been so many possibilities of obtaining information as today. “The word is more powerful than the sword. The recent revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East have once again demonstrated just how important the new media, independent reporting and free access to information are for the individual. Journalists, bloggers, citizen journalists, web activists and simple internet users are committed to greater transparency, freedom, dignity and involvement by peaceful means, thus becoming front-line defenders of freedom and human rights,” continued Spindelegger.
The situation for journalists has also deteriorated in many other parts of the world: only recently journalists expressing criticism of the regime were arrested in Iran, also the number of alarming reports from China regarding numerous violations of the freedom of the media is increasing. Even in Europe the freedom of the media remains heavily restricted in some states. “A particularly drastic example is the situation of journalists in Belarus. Austria condemns any repression of journalists in the harshest of terms and calls upon all states – with no exceptions – to promptly lift any illegal restrictions on the freedom of expression and freedom of the press and stop threatening journalists in any way,” continued Spindelegger.
The protection of journalists and the defence of the freedom of the press, the freedom of the media and the freedom on the Internet constitute a priority of Austria’s work in the field of human rights. Over the coming years Austria has set itself the goal of achieving a sustainable improvement in the protection of journalists in all situations, be it in conflict situations or in particularly dangerous circumstances. Given the opportunity, Austria intends to pursue this concern in the Human Rights Council as well. “On these issues we must closely cooperate with civil society and journalists in order to ensure their effective protection,” concluded the Foreign Minister.
Austria is currently running for a seat on the Human Rights Council. The elections take place on 20 May in New York. Austria is believed to stand a good chance of becoming a member of the highest UN body in the field of human rights for the next three years.
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