19 January 2012

IFJ/EFJ Backs Call for Probe into Assault against Photographer in Kosovo

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its European group, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) today supported the call by journalists’ organisations in Kosovo on the authorities to investigate an incident in which photojournalist Vedat Xhymshiti was allegedly assaulted by police while covering a public event last week.

“It is not acceptable for police officers to attack journalists who are only doing their job,” said Stephen Pearse, IFJ Deputy General Secretary and EFJ General Secretary. “The authorities must launch a thorough investigation into this attack and hold accountable the officers involved.”

Mr. Xhymshiti told the IFJ that the incident took place on Saturday 14 January when the police intervened to disrupt a protest in favour of self-determination at the Kosovo- Serbia border crossing of Dheu i Bardhë.

The photojournalist said that he was beaten unconscious by police in riot gear when he began taking pictures of violent scenes involving police allegedly beating and handcuffing activists.

The Association of Kosovo Professional Journalists (AGPK) and Union of Kosovo Journalists (UGK) organised demonstrations yesterday to condemn the violence against the photojournalist, saying this was a direct threat to press freedom in Kosovo. The two organisations also called for the Inspectorate of Police to punish the officer who assaulted their colleague.

The IFJ backs these demands and warns the authorities against the danger to democratic rule in the province if law enforcement agencies can resort to violence with impunity.

“It is a slippery road to an authoritarian and intolerant society and the authorities must keep their security forces in check to avoid this situation,” added Pearse.

For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 07
The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in 131 countries

Kosovo, Press Freedom

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