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Attacks on Journalists are Attacks Against Freedom of Opinion and Democracy

Published: November 26, 2015; 19:30 · (FriedlNews)

The UN-General Assembly adopts a resolution on the safety of journalists co-sponsored by Austria. Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sebastian Kurz declared on the occasion of the adoption of the Resolution on “The Safety of Journalists” by the 3rd Committee of the UN-General Assembly, the International Day to End Impunity: “Attacks against journalists silence important voices in society and thus impede the freedom of opinion."

Kurz: Attacks on Journalists are Attacks Against Freedom of Opinion and Democracy / Picture: © Flickr / The Austrian Foreign Ministry

"Thereby they are a danger for democracy. The international community must keep up the pressure towards ending the wide-ranging impunity for such attacks. As long as perpetrators do not have to face consequences these attacks will continue to be repeated.”

Worldwide at least one journalist dies per week.

69 journalists were already killed due to their profession in 2015.

The number of those assaulted or threatened on grounds of their profession is by far higher.

The attacks are not limited to one region. Journalists reporting on themes like corruption or organised crime are especially endangered.

Journalists are also increasingly targeted by extremist terrorism as with the tragic case of the attack against the editorial office of Charlie Hebdo in Paris this year.

The core of the problem and simultaneously the aim of the Austrian effort is the issue of impunity.

More than 90% of crimes committed against journalists are never solved and in addition many victims never start legal proceedings or receive help form their employers in the case of an assault.

The promotion of “Safety of Journalists” is therefore a focal issue of Austria’s human rights policy.

The aim of Austria’s efforts is the effective implementation of measures to improve the working environment of journalists all over the world, as well as the creation of awareness and exchange of “best practice”-examples.

Austria thus was one of the main initiators of this resolution, which was adopted unanimously by the UN-General Assembly.

It follows an Austrian initiative hailing from her membership in the UN-Human Rights Council in Geneva, which includes a list with concrete measures.

The resolution calls upon governments to introduce independent investigations and ensure the prosecution of perpetrators.

Governments also should contribute to the creation of a secure environment by e.g. developing special protection programmes for journalists.