Police Ordered To Tell Media About Sex Attacker Origins

Story ByMichael Leidig, Sub EditorJoseph GolderAgencyCentral European News

Austria’s Interior Ministry has ordered police press officers to ensure journalists are made aware of the country of origin of sex attackers and have been ordered not to suppress such stories.

The move follows allegations in Germany that police had often been instructed to cover up the extent of sex attacks by migrants, particularly regarding the infamous New Year sex attacks in Cologne, where police issued a press statement immediately afterwards to say that there had been no problems, even though it later transpired that there had been mass sex attacks, including 24 rapes.

An Austrian Interior Ministry spokesman confirmed that the move had been taken to homogenise the release of data to the media.

The Austrian Interior Ministry is controlled by the far-right Freedom Party under Herbert Kickl, and the spokesman said: “In some Austrian Bundeslander, the country of origin of the suspects was stated, and in others it was not. This ruling is simply to bring everything in line across all police forces and to ensure the same information is available to the media.”

The details of the Interior Ministry’s message, published in Austrian media today (WED), also reveal that police press officers were urged to underline the country of origin to “critical” media, such as the Standard and Kurier.

They said that in all such cases the citizenship and whereabouts of suspects should be explicitly stated, which is in contrast to a Justice Ministry ruling from 2014 that the origin and personal characteristics of the suspect should only be mentioned if it was “necessary to understand the reporting”.