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Cameraman assaulted, injured, photographer's camera broken during protests

(ANEM/IFEX) - The following is an ANEM statement:

ANEM SEVERELY CONDEMNS VIOLENT PHYSICAL ATTACK AGAINST AN RTV B92 CAMERAMAN, CONTINUOUS ATTACKS AGAINST REPORTERS AND CAMERAMEN, AND ABSENCE OF REACTIONS FROM THE RELEVANT STATE INSTITUTIONS

Belgrade, July 25, 2008 - The Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM) severely condemns repeated attacks against reporters and cameramen. After the attacks against reporters and cameramen that took place in Novi Sad and Belgrade on July 22 and 23, Bosko Brankovic, a cameraman with an ANEM member station, Radio Television B92, was attacked on July 24 while he was making footage of the protest organized by several so-called patriotic organizations and aided by the Serbian Radical Party in Belgrade on the occasion of the arrest of Radovan Karadzic.

B92 reported that the attack took place when an irascible young man in a line of people that walked past the Turkish Embassy rushed at the B92 cameraman while he was filming protestors who were breaking a camera of the FoNet News Agency photographer. The attacker kicked Bosko Brankovic and knocked him down, and then went on kicking him. He thus caused the cameraman to suffer several serious injuries and at the same time damaged an RTV B92 camera. During this attack, the mass of people repeatedly shouted: "Strike, strike the reporter". This incident took place in the immediate vicinity of police officers who chose not to react, although it was clear that it was an incident involving a reporter on duty as a victim.

The ANEM would thus like to show their full solidarity with their colleagues who suffered these attacks, and also to call on all the relevant institutions and individuals to identify the perpetrators and bring them before justice. The ANEM would like to point out that any kind of pressure exerted to influence media professionals in their work, be it reporting on the organized citizens' protests or, and especially, physical assaults and beating, is impermissible and illegal. The ANEM thus demands that the identity of the people who attacked the reporters and cameramen be established as soon as possible, and that they are punished according to the law.

The ANEM points out that the relevant state institutions have to provide adequate conditions for citizens' gatherings to take place according to legal regulations by providing for the physical safety of the reporters who report on these gatherings as a part of their professional tasks and job. Organizers of the citizens' protests that are not organized and conducted according to the law have to be held responsible and penalized for their offence. The responsibility for incidents that take place during citizens' protests lies with the organizers of these protests, and the people responsible for incidents have to be brought before justice for the attacks that happened yesterday in Belgrade.

The ANEM especially points out that similar attacks against reporters and citizens have been happening for several successive days now, and that such continuous attacks and absence of any reaction from the relevant state institutions have confirmed that an atmosphere of fear has gradually been created in Serbia to prevent media organizations from performing their primary function, so indispensable in a society that strives to be a democratic community, and that is to offer full and objective information to the general public on all the issues that they are entitled to be fully informed about. The ANEM will insist again that the authorities take decisive measures in order to prevent creation of such an atmosphere of fear, that the perpetrators are brought before justice, and that media professionals, together with the right of the general public to full and objective relevant information, are fully protected.

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