An acting officer of the Hungarian police “must be able to distinguish journalists from people attacking him, as with children playing peacefully from someone throwing stones”, András Szeles of Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (TASZ) writes in an essay commenting on the riot at Röszke last week, where journalists say they were injured.
According to Szeles, government spokesperson Zoltán Kovács was “wrong to assume that ‘journalists have no business being there, and the acting officer has no discretion in distinguishing aggressors from media representatives’”. Szeles says that journalists not only have the right to be on site but it is their professional duty to report on such issues.
Szeles says that the Hungarian law states that “in choosing between coercive methods, [an officer] should choose ones that are not only effective, but also involve the least restraint, injury or damage to person(s) affected by the action.”
He says that “police cannot apply coercive means against journalists who are not attacking officers but reporting on events.” He adds that “journalists cannot be arrested for doing their job.” Commenting on an AP journalistʼs case, who claimed to have deleted photos under pressure by the Hungarian police, he says that the “police cannot delete photos or video recordings made by journalists because they depict policemen.”