This Special Report is the third in a series issued by the Office of the OSCE Representative on
 Freedom of the Media that seeks to offer clarification about problematic aspects and best
 practices of the framework for the media in the OSCE area.
The first two reports, issued in October 2006 and March 2007, examined the function of
 journalists’ accreditation and the issue of registration of the print media.
This Special Report examines the treatment of journalists by law enforcement officials during
 political demonstrations.

There have been a number of instances recently where journalists have received particularly harsh
treatment at the hands of law-enforcers while covering public demonstrations. This has
highlighted the need to clarify the modus operandi of both law-enforcement agencies and
 journalists at all public events, in order that the media is able to provide coverage without
h indrance.
The OSCE participating States have committed to freedom of expression and freedom of
assembly and have guaranteed to create the conditions whereby journalists are able to work
 without legal or administrative obstacles. Particularly, they “condemn all attacks on and 
harassment of journalists and will endeavour to hold those directly responsible for such attacks
and harassment accountable.” In addition, the ODIHR Guidelines on Freedom of Peaceful
 Assembly clarifies the role of the media.
 Recent conflicts in connection with public demonstrations touch on both freedom of expression 
issues and those related to freedom of assembly. But safe reporting on demonstrations is
demanded not only by freedom of the media and free flow of information principles: uninhibited
reporting on demonstrations is as much a part of the right to free assembly as the demonstrations
 are themselves the exercise of the right to free speech.

Both law-enforcers and journalists have special responsibilities at a public demonstration. Law-
enforcers are responsible for ensuring that citizens can exercise their right to peaceful assembly,
for protecting the rights of journalists to cover the event regardless of its legal status, and for
 curbing the spread of violence by peaceful means. Journalists carry the responsibility to be clearly 
identified as such, to report without taking measures to inflame the situation, and should not
 become involved in the demonstration itself.

This report examines some of the issues that have become a recurring problem in the OSCE area
and proposes recommendations to improve the handling of the press in similar circumstances in
the future.