Reporters Without Borders has condemned Bulgarian authorities for refusing to investigate police violence against freelance journalist Dimiter Kenarov in September 2020.
Kenarov who has worked covering armed conflicts for media such as BBC and Foreign Policy was badly beaten, handcuffed, and detained for more than five hours, without being given access to a lawyer. The police claim that instead, he was “invited” to the police station after provoking a difference of opinion with officers. The Prosecutor’s Office said they were unable to identify those that had assaulted him.
RSF condemned the lack of action from the police.
“We condemn the Sofia police’s refusal to reexamine this journalist’s arbitrary and violent arrest, and the absurd and dystopian narrative, worthy of George Orwell, being used by the authorities,” said Pavol Szalai, the head of RSF’s European Union and Balkans desk. “A new independent investigation is needed to establish the facts and to ensure that the authorities do not tolerate such behavior towards journalists covering demonstrations.”
His arrest and assault took place during a demonstration on 2 September. On this day, another reporter Nikolay Doychinov said he was assaulted and his camera was damaged by police officers.
Police treatment of journalists is an ongoing and increasing concern. Over the last couple of years, the use of tear gas and heavy-handed measures against the public and media workers has increased in Albania. In December 2020 during protests against the murder of Klodian Rasha by a police officer, as many as four journalists were arrested while working. They made various claims including those of assault, having footage deleted, and having to sign “confessions” as a condition of release.
The government and the police are yet to apologise or condemn these incidents.