The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is concerned by the latest police attacks on journalists reporting about the refugee situation in Hungary.
On 16 September around 5.30 pm, Serbian public broadcaster RTS staff members, including journalist Jovana Djurovic, cameraman Vladan Hadzi Mijailovic and technical staff member Miroslav Djurasinovic were reporting from the Hungarian–Serbian border crossing at Röszke / Horgos. The team was documenting the Hungarian police while they prevented refugees from entering Hungary, when the media workers were suddenly physically attacked by the Hungarian police.
The media workers later stated that they were standing among other TV crews and journalists between the police cordon and the refugees, when officers suddenly pushed Mijailovic and Djurasinovic, injuring them with bats and breaking their equipment. Journalist Jovana Djurovic suffered an injury to her left hand during the attack. The TV crew claim that they were ignored when they repeatedly identified themselves as a TV crew working for RTS. They were later taken to Subotica, Serbia, where they received further medical aid.
On the same day, Jacek Tacik, a Polish reporter from Poland’s public broadcaster TVP, was accused by the Hungarian officials of illegally crossing the border between Hungary and Serbia close to Röszke/ Horgos while reporting about a group refugees who entered Hungary. Tacik was beaten by officers before being arrested by the border police. He was struck in the head with a baton and detained for more than ten hours.
The Hungarian police also allegedly attacked Australian photographer Warren Richardson, Swedish photographer for the Swedish daily Expressen Meli Petersson Ellafi, and reporter for Slovak newspaper Denník N Tímea Beck. Also on 16 September a crew from the media outlet B92 from Belgrade, Serbia, suffered from tear gas fired at the refugees by the Hungarian police while covering the events on the border.
Associated Press cameraman Luca Muzi said that he was attacked by Hungarian police on 12 September near Röszke and that the police forced him to delete photos he took of a police dog threatening a refugee. The Hungarian police deny the allegations.
“I call the Hungarian authorities to stop attacking and threatening journalists who are reporting about the refugee crisis as an issue of public interest. This is a clear attack on freedom of expression by the Hungarian authorities”, Oliver Vujovic, SEEMO Secretary General said. “The police in Hungary are committing brutal acts of violence. The safety of journalists must be guaranteed by the Hungarian state. The fact that police in Hungary were beating journalists, destroying technical equipment and forcing journalists to delete their footage violates international standards that protect journalists reporting on matters that are clearly of public interest. Those who are responsible must be investigated and punished by the law”, Vujovic added.
SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South East Europe. SEEMO’s press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.