News

August 7, 2019

Police violence against reporters in Poland

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the inappropriate police behaviour towards reporters during a nationalist demonstration last week to mark the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw uprising and calls on the Polish authorities to respect the media. Police attacked one reporter and expelled two others from the march.

Staged by several hundred far-right nationalists in Warsaw on 1 August, the demonstration was quickly marred by incidents between reporters and police. Jędrzej Nowicki, a photo-reporter for the Warsaw daily Gazeta Wyborcza, was physically attacked by a police officer while trying to photograph counter-demonstrators being evicted from Krasinski Square“I was taking photos when I felt a policeman grab me by the neck, pull me backwards and then throw me to the ground," Nowicki said. Earlier in the day, two reporters working for the independent Oko.press media outlet were forced by police to leave the demonstration at the request of its organizers, who did not want a media presence within the march.

 

These incidents constitute a serious violation of the freedom to inform and are indicative of a gradual decline in the ability of reporters to freely cover public events in Poland,” RSF’s European Union and Balkans desk said. “We call on the Polish authorities to take whatever measures are necessary to ensure that journalists can work in complete safety.


Nowicki said he has witnessed the decline. “A degree of tension is taking hold,” he said. “I was hit by a policeman while covering the protest by environmentalists in Konin. It was the second incident in two weeks. The situation is deteriorating dangerously.


Poland has been plummeting in RSF's World Press Freedom Indexever since the conservative government took office in October 2015 and is now ranked 59th out of 180 countries.