16 Dec 2019 Lvl. 2
State repliedProgress
Alert created on: 25 Sep 2018 n° 104/2018 Austria

Austria Interior Ministry Plans to Restrict Information Access for 'Critical Media'

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner IPI EFJ/IFJ Index
Partner IPI EFJ/IFJ Index
A top spokesman for Austria's Interior Ministry has urged police departments across Austria to "restrict communication" with "critical media". In an email leaked to the Austrian press, the spokesman said police should “restrict communication with these media to only the most necessary (legally required) degree”. The spokesman described the media outlets, including the dailies Der Standard and Kurier as well as the weekly Falter, of “very one-sided and negative reporting about the [Ministry of Interior] and the police”. The email also urged police departments not to grant critical media any “privileges”, such as police ride-alongs. The spokesman's email accused the media outlets of "ignoring facts", which he claimed recent articles had proven. In a later statement, the Interior Ministry said the email contained only non-binding "suggestions".
Progress
16 Dec 2019: On 16 December 2019, given the statements by President van der Bellen and Chancellor Kurz that “any restrictions on press freedom are unacceptable and that any discrimination or the exclusion or boycott of selected media outlets are unacceptable and that any discrimination or the exclusion or boycott of selected media outlets must not occur and is not permitted in Austria”, as reflected in the reply from the Permanent Representation of Austria of 15 November 2018, the partner organisations to the Platform declared this case to be in “progress”.
Updates
22 Jul 2019
On 20 May 2019, Chancellor Kurz fired Herbert Kickl, so as to ensure a full and transparent investigation into the “Ibiza video” scandal. Wolfgang Peschorn was appointed Minister of the Interior on 3 June 2019.
15 Jul 2019
On 20 May 2019, following revelations in the so-called “Ibiza video” of a scheme of charitable foundations to collect donations for the benefit of the FPÖ in avoidance of Austrian campaign finance law, the Public Prosecutor on Corruption opened investigations on suspected breach of trust against Heinz-Christian Strache, Johann Gudenius, Markus Tschank and other persons.
15 Jun 2019
On 7 May 2019, a parliamentarian request by Member of the National Council Nikolaus Scherak and others (No. 3490/J) for information on the new Ministerial Decree on communication and the Ministerial Circular on Communication was sent to the Ministry of the Interior.
30 Apr 2019
On 30 April 2019, the Ministry of the Interior dissolved the Press Service at the Federal Criminal Office and integrated it into its chart, effective 1 May 2019. A new Ministerial Decree on communication and a related Ministerial Circular also entered into force on that day.
25 Sep 2018
On 25 September 2018, Alexander van der Bellen, Federal President, and Sebastian Kurz, Federal Chancellor, declared that freedom of expression, media and the press are pillars of liberal democracy and of the rule of law in Austria; that the media must have the same free access to information, without discrimination or boycott on the part of the public institutions’ public relations officers.
State replies
16 Nov 2018
Reply from the Austrian authorities
Follow-ups
27 Sep 2018
OSCE Representative calls on Austrian Ministry of Interior to treat all media equally and to refrain from attacking them.
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