[Human Rights] HRC / 23rd Session, Clustered ID with the Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Expression
Austria would like to thank both Special Rapporteurs for their reports and their important work done for the promotion and protection of human rights.
Mr. La Rue, Austria would like to emphasize its strong support for your mandate and its appreciation for considering the safety of journalists and media freedom an issue of central importance throughout your work.
Mr. Rapporteur, in your report you elaborate the particular vulnerability of human rights defenders, journalists or political activists for becoming targets of communications surveillance.
Due to their reliance on online communication and in order to receive and pursue information from confidential sources, journalists must be able to rely on the privacy, security and anonymity of their communications. An environment where surveillance is widespread and unlimited cannot sustain the presumption of protection of sources.
Mr. La Rue, we share your concern that without adequate legislation and legal standards to ensure the privacy, security and anonymity of communications, journalists, human rights defenders and whistleblowers, for example, cannot be assured that their communications will not be subject to States’ scrutiny.
Mr. Rapporteur, you recommend that states should establish independent oversight mechanisms capable to ensure transparency and accountability of State surveillance of communications. Could you please elaborate further on how such a mechanism should be constructed? Can you provide us with good practices in that regard?
Finally, Mr. Rapporteur, let me thank you for your participation at our side event on the Safety of Journalists, which will take place tomorrow at 1pm in room XXV and to which I’d like to cordially invite you all again.
We would like to thank you for your comprehensive presentation and the pertinent remarks. Austria welcomes your thematic report on State responsibility for eliminating violence against women.
The fight against violence against women and the improvement of the human rights situation of women worldwide is a priority of Austria’s foreign policy. Austria is actively promoting these rights at all levels: at the United Nations, the European Union (EU), the Council of Europe and the OSCE, and also in relations with third States and in context of the Austrian Development Cooperation. In this regard, let me underline the importance of this year’s 20th anniversary of the Vienna World Conference on Human Rights and its Declaration and Programme of Action (VDPA).
The VDPA affirmed women’s rights as universal rights and opened the door for major work to integrate a gender perspective into all human rights policies. Since 1993, significant progress has been made in the realization of the provisions laid down in the VDPA. However, while Vienna was a vital step forward in recognizing women’s rights as human rights, many challenges remain in taking this awareness into effective action. This also includes the due diligence standards with regard to violence against women, the issue of multiple forms of discrimination and the right to an effective remedy.
To highlight these challenges, Austria is organizing a side event on achievements, challenges and perspectives, 20 years after the Vienna World Conference. The event will take place on 5 June, from 1 to 3pm in Room XXV of the Palais. We invite you all to join us at this important event.