Hungary: prosecutor acts on ECPMF fact finding mission report

One year after a group of journalists were beaten up and detained by police guarding the Serbian-Hungarian border, the state prosecutor has started a special investigation.

Balàzs Nagy Navarro, an award-winning Hungarian journalist who chairs the Supervisory Board of the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), has given evidence. It was based on ECPMF’s fact- finding mission to discover what happened in the Röszke incident. Nagy Navarro, who led the ECPMF fact-finding mission, says:

It is a very important step that the Hungarian Prosecutor’s Office opened this investigation. We consider it as sign that – despite the Hungarian government’s insistence that there were no crimes committed against journalists at the Hungarian-Serbian border – the Prosecutor’s Office thinks differently.”

While covering an attempt by hundreds of refugees to get through the border fence, six media workers from Slovakia, Poland, Serbia and Australia were attacked by Hungarian security forces. For one year, the ECPMF has been advocating to bring the case to justice.

We hope that this investigation will be thorough and that the offenders will be held responsible. No journalists should be attacked by Hungarian police in the future just because they are exercising their profession,” Nagy Navarro states.

The legal move follows months after the ECPMF sent protest letters in a Europe-wide campaign to Hungary’s Prime Minister Victor Orbán. In June, this action was answered by the Minister of Interior, Sándor Pintér, who denied the lack of media freedom in his country.

Henrik Kaufholz who chairs the ECPMF Executive Board comments:

Everybody has to meet an investigation with skepticism when it starts several months after the incident. Nevertheless, the ECPMF welcomes the move by the Hungarian authorities. It’s important to get all the facts clear – especially as this case is about abuse and violence by police against media workers who clearly identified as such.”

The media workers affected by the attack are:  Slovakian journalist Tímea Beck, Jacek Tacik, a Polish journalist with TVPInfo public television, Warren Richardson, award-winning Australian freelance photojournalist, Jovana Durovic of Serbian Public Television RTS and her RTS colleagues Hadzi Vladan Mijailovic and Miroslav Durasinovic.

ECPMF Board member Ljljana Smailovic, the president of the Association of Journalists of Serbia, worked on the fact-finding mission and interviewed the RTS crew.

The Hungary fact-finding mission and its updated outcome will be presented at the European Media Freedom Conference 2016.

The article was originally published by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)