OSCE Rep: police must respect the rights of journalists

OSCE Rep: police must respect the rights of journalists

November 12, 2011 – 17:25 AMT

PanARMENIAN.Net – The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media,
Dunja Mijatovic, today expressed concern about the increasing number
of journalists harassed by police while covering `Occupy Wall Street’
protests across the United States.

At least eight reporters and photographers have been detained while
covering the protests, including journalists who were clearly
identified as members of the working press.

`There is no question that reporters and photographers have the right
to observe, record and report on events that are in plain view,’
Mijatovic said. `Media coverage of public events is the backbone of
citizen oversight of government activities, and to detain reporters
covering these events jeopardizes freedom of the media.’

A spate of police encounters has ensued in the past month from the
ongoing demonstrations, including in Oakland, California, New York
City, Nashville, Tennessee, and Atlanta, Georgia.

The latest arrests came just last week as two journalists for
university newspapers in the state of Georgia were jailed for 14 hours
and charged with `obstructing traffic’ while covering an `Occupy
Atlanta’ demonstration. They must return to court in March 2012.

In Milwaukee, Journal Sentinel photographer Kristyna Wentz-Graff was
detained as she photographed a demonstration at the University of
Wisconsin-Milwaukee. No charges were filed after video footage proved
she was identified as a working journalist.

`Journalists should not have to defend their right to report on
matters of public importance,’ Mijatovic said. `Violating one
reporter’s right affects all citizens. It is time for local officials
to demand that their law enforcement agencies respect the rights and
duties of media in covering public issues,’ The Financial reported.

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