Defamation Laws In Austria
Defamation laws in Austria are of both civil and criminal variety.
Under Article 29 of the 1981 Media Act, journalists are not guilty of libel if they are able to establish their adherence to proper journalistic procedures and the issue at hand was a matter of public interest.
However, Article 7 of the Media Act provides that a media organization is liable for libel if the material in question concerns the private life of a person and are presented in such a way as to degrade him or her in public opinion.
Article 111: Defamation
Outlines that defamation is committed “if a person accuses another, in such a way that it may be perceived by a third person, of possessing a contemptible character or attitude or of dishonorable behavior or of behavior contrary to morality which is suited to make him contemptible or otherwise lower him in public esteem.” This offense carries a higher punishment if the material reached a wide audience.
Article 115: Slander and Assault Provision
Offense is committed if a person insults, mocks, mistreats or threatens with ill-treatment another one in public or in the presence of other persons, unless the offender is liable to a more severe punishment under a different provision. The offense must take place in public or in the presence of several other persons and the offender must have taken his fact into account when committing the offense.
Article 297: Malicious Falsehood
This offense is committed if a person falsely accuses a specific person, or several other people, in such a way as to expose such person or persons to the risk of prosecution. The offender is not liable if he removes the risk of prosecution voluntarily and in due time.
Article 248: Disparagement of the State and Its Symbols
Deems that an offense is committed if the Republic of Austria, or one of its constituent States, is maliciously insulted or degraded in such a way that it is perceived by a broad section of the public. Similarly, a person commits this offense if he maliciously insults or degrades the flag of the Republic of Austria, or the federal anthem or the State anthem.