Federal Minister Kurz: “Attacks on journalists are attacks on democracy”

UNESCO conference co-funded by Austria brings news organisations together to discuss measures aimed at promoting the safety of journalists

One year and a month after the tragic attack on the editorial offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, media professionals from around the world adopt a call for stepping-up international cooperation aimed at promoting the safety of journalists. Against the background of the UNESCO conference, Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz explained: “Attacks on journalists are attacks on democracy and on the fundamental values of plural societies. This is why promotion of the safety of journalists is a priority topic of Austrian human rights policy.”  

At least one journalist is killed every week around the globe. In 2015, a total of 103 journalists lost their lives while doing their job. The attacks are, however, not restricted to a certain region. Worldwide, journalists who report on topics such as corruption or organised crime are particularly at risk. Impunity lies at the heart of the problem - more than 90% of crimes against journalists remain unsolved and thus go unpunished. Journalists are also increasingly in the firing line of extremist terrorists. The rise in online journalism has seen threats and verbal attacks against journalists, and especially against female journalists, reach an unprecedented level.

 In all UN fora, Austria therefore proactively supports the implementation of measures aimed at the concrete improvement of journalists’ working environments worldwide, at awareness-raising and the exchange of best practice examples. Paris-based UNESCO is responsible for implementing the UN Plan of Action for the Safety of Journalists. The conference, which was co-funded by the Austrian Foreign Ministry, for the first time succeeded in bringing together in one room decision-makers from world-leading media and publishing houses, NGOs and government representatives to jointly discuss and develop effective strategies to promote the safety and protection of journalists. 

 

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