April 19, 2012 - Updated on January 20, 2016

New guidelines instruct police to respect and protect journalists

Reporters Without Border hails the Greek police’s adoption of guidelines designed to improve relations with the press, and hopes they will be put into action quickly.

“We hope these undertakings by the police will finally end the deliberate violent attacks on journalists of the past few months,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The authorities have a duty to protect journalists and their intervention was urgently needed. But we will not settle for words alone. We will closely monitor the next demonstrations and their progress in identifying those responsible for recent abuses, including the attack on Marios Lolos.

“Furthermore, in order to really protect journalists, the police should begin by respecting their neutrality. Despite many protests, the Athens police website is still making improper use of Reuters photos for an appeal for witnesses although the photos of other news agencies have been taken down.

“Must we reiterate yet again that photographers are not police auxiliaries and that use of their work is strictly regulated? By posting these photos on their website, the police are encouraging a tendency to regard journalists as an extension of the security forces. In the current context of social polarization and violence, this puts them in real danger.”

The photos were downloaded illegally and posted on the Athens police website without the consent of the news agencies concerned after the clashes that took place during demonstrations in the capital on 12 February.

Reporters Without Borders reiterated its concern about the photos in a letter this week to minister for citizen protection Mihalis Chrysochoidis and Athens police spokesman Athanasios Kokalakis (attached). The press freedom organization calls for their immediate removal from the police site.

Unveiling the “guidelines for cooperation between police and media” on 17 April, police chief Nikolaos Papayannopoulos said “the police, when carrying out their duties, must respect journalists” and “not act in an authoritarian or violent manner.” The guidelines say that the police “offer as much protection and security as possible to media representatives” and “facilitate their work.”

Read Reporters Without Borders' letter to Mr Chrysochoidis and Mr Kokalakis:

(Photo: Aris Messinis / AFP)