Vienna, 6 June 2013 Press release

International distinction for Austria's commitment to journalists' safety

Spindelegger: “Protecting the safety of journalists and defending the freedom of the press and the media have always been and will remain priorities of Austria's work in the field of human rights.”

Vienna, 6 June 2013 – Austria received the Press Emblem Campaign Award 2013 in Geneva today for its efforts in protecting the safety of journalists worldwide. Since 2009, the annual award has been given to people, organisations or states that render outstanding services to the protection of journalists and freedom of the press. The other award-winners this year include a human rights activist from Honduras and a non-governmental organisation from Guatemala.

“We understand this award as an appreciation of our commitment to the safety of journalists but even more as a motivation and mission to continue our efforts and sustain our resolve for the future”, Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said on the presentation of the Press Emblem Campaign Awards 2013.

In September 2012, Austria initiated a resolution on the safety of journalists in the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva which was adopted after lengthy discussions by consensus. “The resolution is a milestone achievement. It is for the first time that the international community has made a clear statement in this matter: it explicitly condemns any forms of attack, calls for putting an end to impunity, and stipulates the responsibility of states to take concrete action to create a safe environment, which includes – if necessary – specific protection schemes for threatened journalists.”

Austria also dedicates itself to this topic by cooperating with UN organisations and by employing the means of organisations such as UNESCO or the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. According to information of the International Press Institute in Vienna, 48 journalists have already lost their lives this year while doing their job. Many more have been injured, put into prison or hindered in their work by intimidation.

“It is our goal to ensure that journalists can do their important job without risk and without being subjected to external influence. The focus in the next few months will therefore be on implementing the obligations of the states. They must fulfil their duties under human rights and international laws”, the Vice-Chancellor said.

“The safety of journalists and the protection of freedom of the press and the media will therefore remain a priority in Austria's work in the human rights field”, the Vice-Chancellor concluded.

Federal Ministry for
European and International Affairs
Press Department
Tel.: +43 (0) 50 1150-3320
Fax: +43 (0) 50 1159-213