24.06.2008

POLICE STATION STOLAC
N/r: Commander of the Police Station, Mr Emin BILAL

CC: Federal Ministry of Inner Affairs, Federal Police Headquarters, Ministry of Inner Affairs of HN Canton, EUPM, OSCE Mission in B&H, OHR

SUBJECT: Reaction with regard to physical attack on journalist from "Vecernji list"

REACTION
of the Press Council in Bosnia-Herzegovina
and
Association of Publishers of Daily Newspapers and Magazines in B&H - PRESA 
with regard to physical attack on journalist from "Vecernji list", Frane Matic,
from the Police Support Unit members


Dear Commander Bilal,

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Press Council in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Association of Publishers of Daily Newspapers and Magazines PRESA in B&H, we strongly protest due to physical attack of the Police Support Unit members at the journalist of daily "Vecernji list". Behaviour of the Police Support Unit members is inadmissible and it is degrading both police and job they are performing.

Protecting interests of its members, which "Vecernji list" is, and protecting right of public on accurate and timely information and right of journalists to freely perform their professional duties, the Press Council in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Association PRESA expect from the Police Station Stolac to duly punish persons who have beaten up journalist Maric and endangered his life in moment when he performed his professional task.

Journalist/photo-reporter of "Vecernji list", Mr Frano Matic, was reporting on riots after football game between Croatia and Turkey national teams in Stolac. Your police officers, unfortunately, have prevented him from performing his job in the most brutal way. Members of the Police Support Unit have attacked journalist Matic and physically molested, trying to take away his equipment and recorded material.

Attack on journalist during his working task with aim to prevent him from reporting on an event is breach of Convention on Human Rights and severe breach of guaranteed freedom of informing.

It is clear that Police forces have very difficult task that night to control riots and perform their job in good and professional way, as it is expected from the Police. But, in the same way it is expected from journalists and photo-reporters to inform public on all details of misfortunate events and to perform equally difficult and dangerous job at field. It is expected from Police to protect a journalist in performing his job, not to beat him up and prevent him in that.

Baring in mind that journalist Matic has on time and visually proved to be journalist, identifying himself with words and by journalistic ID, unfortunately proves that there was no mistake, and that members of the Police Special Unit who have beaten him, had clear aim to prevent journalist from doing his job.
It is in interest of public to have Police who is performing their job. It is in interest of public to have journalist who perform their jobs, and nobody, especially police, have right to prevent them or, even less, to physically molest them. Journalist Matic has, after doctor's intervention in Stolac, due to gravity of injures, ended at Mostar Surgery. Whether we can talk about police duties in light of 'the public interest' here?

As self-regulatory body for print media in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which protects freedom of informing and right of citizens on professional and correct information, it is our duty to remind you on clear Guidelines for Police in dealing with Media, brought by Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, OSCE Mission, which were completely accepted by Bosnia-Herzegovina authorities.

In these Guidelines, among others, was stated: "Both Police and Media have legitimate, professional aims and goals which both sides must respect and appreciate in order to achieve successfully and mutually useful co-operation".
It was also emphasised that "…police cannot be involved or cannot punish journalists during their performing of tasks. Journalists have right to take photos, to record, make notes, observe, make interviews and/or make reports without asking for promotion of government or police…Police cannot take away equipment or materials from journalists unless there is a court order or decree".
It was also said: "Police should know journalists' rights including right to freedom of informing, right to freedom of moving, as well as right to travel through country without obstructions. Journalists cannot and should not be arrested without specific legitimate reason".

The Press Council in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Association of Publishers of Daily Newspapers and Magazines in B&H, demand from Police Station Stolac urgent investigation and punishment of perpetrators of physical attack on journalist of "Vecernji list", Mr Frane Maric, and public apology both to family of journalist and editorial office of daily "Vecerni list".

 

Board of Directors of the Press Council in Bosnia-Herzegovina 
PRESA - Association of Publishers of Daily Newspapers and Magazines in B&H

 

 

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