As online threats, hate mail and bullying escalate, calls for effective countermeasures are growing. ÖVP Secretary General Laura Sachslehner calls for the creation of a special prosecutor’s office for online hate. However, the coalition partner speaks out against a special authority. The Greens are skeptical, suspecting only a cool calculation behind the ÖVP demand.
Green Justice spokeswoman Agnes Sirkka Prammer referred Monday to calls by the ÖVP to dissolve the Prosecutor’s Office for Economic and Corruption (WKStA), a “functioning special prosecutor,” she told Ö1. If the demand for a special authority for hate online comes from the same quarter, “you can imagine the intent behind it, which is just to distract from problems on the other side,” Prammer says. It was “unfortunate for such an important topic,” she stressed.
She referred substantively to existing cybercrime competence centers located at the public prosecutor’s offices in Vienna and Graz. There, trained prosecutors investigate when people are affected by hate online. Here one must “consistently take the next step and extend it across the board to strengthen the investigative authorities,” demanded the Greens MP.
Greens: Minister of the Interior on the train
The same training and awareness that existed in the judiciary must now also be extended to the police. With that, Prammer played the ball back to the ÖVP. Together with Gerhard Karner, she provides the Minister of the Interior who is responsible for the police.
Prammer’s party colleague, Justice Minister Alma Zadic, had previously indicated the call for a fundamental understanding of a special prosecutor’s office. But she also referred to the police: “The first point of contact for people who suffer from hate online is the police. This first contact determines whether victims of hate online feel taken seriously or not,” her office said. She pledged to expand the skillset of competence centers across the country.
Instead, the opposition wants more staff
In addition to the association of prosecutors, the opposition parties SPÖ, FPÖ and NEOS are also speaking out against a special authority. Instead, they want an extension of the existing public prosecutor’s offices, such as the WKStA. Selma Yildirim, spokeswoman for SPÖ, also called on the prosecutor’s office on Monday to give separate presentations about combating hate online. Behind the ÖVP’s proposal is “just hot air again”, she explained in a broadcast.
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