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Reporter working in Białowieża Forest attacked

“We urge law enforcement authorities to conduct an effective investigation in order to uncover the details of this case and bring justice to the perpetrators of the attack, in the view of the guarantees for journalists’ safety at work”, reads today’s statement of the Helsinki Foundation, in which the HFHR comments on the violent attack that targeted a reporter covering a story in the area of the Białowieża Forest.

Forest Attack

On Saturday, 29 July, a journalist with Polsat News channel, who was covering a story in the Białowieża Forest area, was beaten and taken to the hospital. According to media reports, the reporter was assaulted by employees of a company performing logging operations in the region.

Safety of journalists

The HFHR emphasises that an attack against journalists covering a public event drastically interferes with the freedom of speech and threatens, above all, the public’s right to receive information from the news media. Given the above, the state has the positive obligation to protect journalists against threats and accurately investigate all acts of violence targeting members of the media. Crucially, there can be no impunity for perpetrators of crimes against journalists.

“The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights will monitor any further actions taken by state authorities in response to the attack against the journalist of Polsat News”, reads the statement.

String of attacks

Today’s statement is another in the series of official HFHR announcements issued over a short period, which discuss the working conditions and safety of journalists. According to the HFHR, the level of safety of journalists covering sensitive public events (e.g. demonstrations or protests) has decreased significantly in recent months.

The Foundation referred to violence targeting journalists of the public television reporting street protests close to the Sejm, demonstrations on 10 July 2017 as well as the restrictions placed on journalists’ in December 2016.The HFHR also sent a letter to the Chief Commissioner of the Police, commenting on the incident that occurred during a football match between Ruch Chorzów and Goring Łęczna, which involved police officers wearing media vests.

The HFHR once again asks participants of public events to respect the role and tasks of members of the media present during such events. We also ask police services to exercise caution in taking any actions that could provoke violence against journalists but also to take any measures necessary to improve the safety of journalists covering events that present a particular risk to journalists”, reads the statement.

The HFHR will monitor any further actions taken by state authorities in response to the attack against the journalist of Polsat News.

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