Serbia: We condemn the attacks against journalists during protests in Belgrade
On 24 December, several journalists and media workers were targets of insults and physical violence while reporting on protests in Belgrade that objected to alleged irregularities during general elections on 17 December. The European and International Federations of Journalists (EFJ-IFJ) condemn the violent acts and urge the competent authorities to launch an immediate investigation.
During the demonstrations, four attacks against journalists and media workers were recorded: three were perpetrated by law enforcement authorities, and one by a protester. The federations express consternation and outrage at those acts from the people whose exact mission is to defend and protect citizens.
Al Jazeera’s cameraman, Nenad Nešić was grabbed by the neck by a policeman while filming who asked him forcefully to move away and stop filming.
Journalist Andrija Lazarevic from the Nova.rs portal was hit on the hand with a baton by a policeman, and a photojournalist from the agency Beta avoided an attempt to snatch his camera.
Journalist Mladen Savatović, who works for N1 news channel, was attacked during a live program: a man, who had been seen destroying a car the day before, insulted and grabbed him by the arm, as the EFJ-IFJ affiliate the Independent Journalists Association of Serbia reported. The plainclothes officers who saw the scene did not react. Savatović had to call the police to get some help, but the man had already fled when the crew arrived at the protest.
The IFJ and the EFJ join the SafeJournalists (SJN) network to call on the competent institutions to react strongly and condemn promptly all the above-mentioned aggressions, and put in place safeguards ensuring these types of behaviours, especially coming from law enforcement authorities. We call on the Serbians authorities to address the threat, and the institutions to protect journalists and sanction the perpetrators. The inaction of state institutions has a serious chilling effect on free speech and independent reporting.