HFHR comments on behaviour hindering work of TVP Info journalist
The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights has noted with concern that some protesters who took the streets on 10 July 2017 to oppose the monthly commemoration of the Smolensk catastrophe behaved in the way that prevented Michał Rachoń, a journalist of TVP Info channel, from properly reporting the event.
According to the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, media coverage of protests is an essential element in the exercise of freedom of expression and a crucial responsibility of journalists who perform the role of “public watchdogs” in a democratic society (see, e.g. Najafli v. Azerbaijan or Pentikäinen v. Finland). In this context, we must once again emphasise that the key role of journalists reporting public events should be respected and protected and note that reporters should be able to do their jobs in safe conditions, free from physical or verbal violence. It is extremely important that the safety of journalistic coverage of protests and their freedom to discharge professional responsibilities should be respected not only by the police force keeping the peace during a particular event but also by persons participating in the event.
We hope that similar incidents will not happen in future. We would like to underscore that the freedom and safety of all journalists working during public protests are protected by the guarantees of freedom of speech as a common good of the whole society.