MIA asks journalists to be more careful and wear badges so that the police dont beat them up
The Ministry of Internal Affairs [MIA] Public Liaison Department has issued a statement to journalists and editors of media outlets to advise them on how to avoid being beaten up by law enforcement officers while covering mass protest actions and exceptional events.
The first paragraph of the statement contains assurances of the MIAs commitment to supporting the media “in exercising their legitimate right to receive objective information in timely manner about the activities of Internal Affairs bodies”.
“All the more regrettable and painful are cases of action to counter journalists or exceptional situations with their participation, especially cases where media representatives have to experience literally the “heavy hand” on them. One such recent occasion took place on 2 October in the Pechersky district of Kyiv on 3 October when the police were stopping a confrontation between individuals and security guards on a residential building site on Pervomaiska St. During this there were several incidents involving conflict between police officers and journalists.
We understand the natural desire of journalists to be in the epicentre of those or other events or “hot on the tracks” inform the community about events of public importance, since only those who witness events can most fully tell people about what took place. However in the whirl of dynamic events where law enforcement officers have to take decisions and act immediately and decisively to prevent in time a threat to public order and peoples safety, during which, unfortunately journalists can end up victims. All the more so since far from all during exceptional incidents have visual signs of their profession (video recorders, cameras, microphones, etc) not to speak of “badges” on their outer clothing or a jacket with the relevant label which could indicate journalist status.
Taking this into account, the Department for Public Liaison and International Activities of the MIA asks the heads of media outlets to pay particular attention to the question of safe behaviour by journalists while carrying out their duties during situations of conflict. We think, for example, it would be expedient to provide each journalist with a special editorial badge in order that police officers distinguish them among other citizens. This is necessary not only in order to safeguard journalists from various accidental occurrences, but also so that police officers at the scene can give all-sided assistance to journalists in carrying out their duties. For this purpose the Minister of Internal Affairs Yury Lutsenko has given instructions to all heads of Internal Affairs bodies and subdivisions when sending swift response groups to places where incidents are taking place that they must appoint a person from the management of the relevant body responsible for organizing help and providing official commentaries to the media.”
The statement ends by repeating that while the management of the Ministry of Internal Affairs understands the wish to be in the epicentre of events, it view with understanding “the professional duties and actions of police officers during conflict situations whose priority is to defend the Law, safeguard public order and peoples safety.
The events mentioned above are among many where members of the public have organized protests over what they believe to be illegal seizures of land and / or construction work. It is difficult not to view the above statement in the light of the events last week over the human rights organization “Institute Respublica” (see the links below).
The statement is posted on the MIA website http://mvs.gov.ua/mvs/control/mvs/control/