An Agence France-Presse photographer and a Reuters cameraman were beaten up by Croatian police and their equipment was seized yesterday while they were covering the refugee crisis at the Serbian border.
“This is the second time in two months that police officers have physically attacked foreign journalists covering the refugee crisis and prevented them from doing their job,” said Alexandra Geneste, the head of the Reporters Without Borders EU/Balkans desk in Brussels. “Violent behavior towards journalists is unacceptable". “We deplore such violations of press freedom and urge the relevant authorities to take the necessary action to ensure the security forces act as guarantors of the safety of the media, not the opposite.” On 18 September, RSF condemned the use of force by the Hungarian police against foreign journalists at the Hungarian-Serbian border. Yesterday, several news organizations complained about ill-treatment of their journalists at the Serbian-Croatian border. AFP photographer Andrej Isakovic was in position at the Serbian border town of Berkasovo with his cameras over his shoulder when two Croatian police officers ordered him to hand over his memory cards. “I told them that I worked for AFP and was going to show them my press card but they said they weren’t interested,” the photojournalist said. “They pushed me to the ground, grabbed my cameras and threw them into a field some distance away on the Croatian side.” It was several hours before he was able to recover his equipment. Earlier, a British freelance photographer received similar treatment. A Reuters cameraman was also beaten and threatened with having his equipment destroyed. The Croatian authorities stated that “the two foreign journalists entered the country illegally”. This was denied by Isakovic who said the incident involving the Croatian police occurred while he was on the Serbian side of the border. Croatia is ranked 58th of 180 countries in the 2015 World Press Freedom Index complied by Reporters Without Borders.