ActiveWatch – Media Monitoring Agency and Reporters without Borders condemn the violence perpetrated against journalists by both police and protesters. The two organizations also condemn basic human rights violations by the riot police, such as the right to free speech, the right to freedom of movement and the right to freedom of assembly.

Both protesters and policemen had attacked several journalists during the street protests that took place in dozens of Romanian cities during the last four days.

On 14th of January, in Ploiesti (Prahova), protesters have threatened, insulted and assaulted journalists and cameramen. During the same evening, protesters in University Square in Bucharest threw stones against a cameraman for Antena3 TV channel. Journalists of the Romanian public television have been threatened and verbally abused and their car stoned by protesters in Bucharest.

On 15th of January, in the same University Square in Bucharest,

- reporter Petre Nechita and cameraman Dragos Stoian had been violently assaulted by protesters;

- riot police hit and detained DC News editor Lucian Negrea;

- several other cameramen and reporters had been verbally abused and threatened by protesters.

At the same time, the Police committed a series of abuses that violated fundamental rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of movement. In the last four days, the riot police abusively detained people protesting in University Square, assaulted citizens who were simply filming incidents at the place of the protest without being part of those, limited the freedom of movement of the citizens in other cities trying to reach Bucharest to join the protest in the University Square, imposed screening filters in public spaces, abusively checking people’s IDs.

On the 16th of January in Bucharest around University Square, 113 people had been detained by the riot police who considered them “to have the intention to block the traffic”.

These serious abuses, associated with the disproportionate response of the law enforcement on the protests that began peacefully on Friday and Saturday evenings, inflamed and radicalized groups of protesters, who rioted on Sunday evening in scenes of unprecedented violence in the past 20 years.

Our organizations would like to remind the law enforcement institutions that their main goal should be to provide a safe environment in which citizens can exercise their constitutional rights during a public gathering.

ActiveWatch and Reporters without Borders call on the law enforcement institutions to exercise the use of force against protesters with extreme caution and only as a last resort in case of acts of violence and to provide protection of journalists and those who document the situation on the ground.

We demand the sanctioning of policemen and protesters who attacked journalists and citizens who filmed, took pictures or documented the riots in University Square, as well as those policemen who obstructed the free circulation of citizens trying to reach Bucharest and its public areas.

We recommend journalists to be fully prepared to cover events which may involve violent confrontations, to wear distinctive clothing in order to be easily identified by policemen and protesters.

We ask journalists and citizens to notify our organizations or other human rights organizations in regard to any abuses or attacks witnessed.

Equally, we call on the protesters to respect the work of journalists who are professionally compelled to inform the public. Journalists can expose the law enforcement abuses. Also, we remind protesters that they have the right to film and photograph everything that happens in public areas and we recommend them to make use of this right especially in cases in which where they discover abuses.

ActiveWatch and Reporters sans Frontieres

ActiveWatch / CC BY 3.0