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OSCE Media Freedom Representative Concerned of Police Use of Violence Against Journalists

Dunja Mijatovic, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media expressed concern about police obstruction of journalists’ activities while covering a public demonstration in Yerevan on Feb. 12, reports EaP Media Freedom Watch.

“Violence against journalists is unacceptable. It is especially alarming that police officers responsible to assist and protect journalists used force against them,” Mijatović wrote in a letter to Armenian authorities.

Dunja Mijatovic urged the authorities to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation of the incident, and do everything possible to prevent inappropriate conduct of police towards representatives of the media in the future.
The incident took place when activists from the opposition party Armenian National Congress were handing out leaflets in the Yerevan downtown, announcing the upcoming rally on March 1. A group of young men tried to stop activists, which turned into a clash, followed by detention of the activists. Police also detained the journalists filming what was happening. The police officers abused them and took away video equipment.

Journalistic and human rights organizations released a statement on the incident as well. Karen Andreasyan, Ombudsman of Armenia, condemned police obstruction of journalists’ work as well. He posted on his Facebook page that “the use of force against journalists leads to criminal liability, especially if those crimes were committed by public officials.” According to Andreasyan, the only way to prevent such crimes is getting a clear and bold response of law enforcement agencies. The Ombudsman stated that he expected “a proper and comprehensive investigation to be conducted, as well as informing the public about the results in thenearest future.”

According to the official information, the chief of Armenian police ordered to launch an official investigation in connection with the statement of Ani Gevorgyan on application of illegal actions towards her.