The Steering Committee of the BH Journalists Association and the Free Media Help Line (FMHL) condemned the Wednesday arrest of journalist Vahidin Mujagic in the northern town of Brod, who was detained for recording the Brod Oil Refinery, calling it a “gross attack on media freedoms and journalistic rights.”
“While filming the Brod Oil Refinery, police officers approached journalist Mujagic and, explaining that it was not allowed to film the Refinery, demanded that the footage be confiscated, then took the journalist to the police station and issued him a misdemeanour warrant for unauthorized filming,” the association said.
According to the statement, Mujagic told the Free Media Help Line that there was no sign anywhere in the area saying that it is prohibited to record the refinery, explaining that he did not enter the facility and that his goal was to record the gas pipelines that were installed by the Republic of Croatia a few days ago on the territory of BiH.
“With respect to all legal procedures and rules that apply when it comes to filming / photographing certain protected objects, the Steering Committee of BH Journalists considers that taking journalist of O Channel to the police station in Brod was unnecessary and unjustified, especially considering the fact that colleague Mujagic was detained while performing journalistic tasks in the interest of the public and of importance to all citizens of Brod and BiH,” the statement said.
The association stressed that “warnings prohibiting the recording of certain objects must be clearly displayed in visible places and in all directions from which these objects are approached.”
Informing citizens on the installation of gas pipelines on the territory of the country conducted by another state – Croatia, “is a topic of priority importance for the public and does not refer to the decision of management to protect the territory of the Refinery from unauthorized filming,” the association argued, adding that “the reaction of the police – bringing journalists to the police station, was not proportionate.”
“If a journalist has committed a misdemeanor, he should certainly be held accountable in accordance with the law. However, the arrest and detention of journalists while performing journalistic tasks in the public interest is a gross attack on media freedoms and journalistic rights,” it said.
“Journalists and all other media professionals in Bosnia and Herzegovina often point out that they have very good communication with police officers and representatives of police institutions. Such incidents disrupt such a relationship and certainly do not contribute to mutual understanding between the two professions,” the association said, calling om the Ministry of the Interior of Bosnia’s Republika Srpska (RS) entity and Brod Police Station officials “to investigate the case in detail and do everything in their power to prevent such incidents in the future.”