13 Jan 2020 Lvl. 2
State replied
Alert created on: 12 Jul 2017 n° 72/2017 Germany

Journalists Stripped of Press Accreditation and Victims of Police Violence During the G20 in Hamburg

Source of threatState
CategoryAttacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists
Partner EFJ/IFJ Index RSF
Partner EFJ/IFJ Index RSF
During the G20 summit that took place in Hamburg on 7 and 8 July 2017, at least 32 journalists were stripped of their press accreditation. Among them, 9 journalists were deprived of the accreditation that they had initially been granted, and 23 journalists were placed on a no-access list for the G20 press centre.
On 7 July, the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) confirmed on Twitter that, in accordance with the Federal Press Office, it had decided to reserve the right to withdraw in some cases accreditation from journalists. According to the Government Spokesperson Steffen Seibert, this decision was justified by “security reasons”. A photographer for the daily newspaper Weser Kurier had his press accreditation revoked “without any explanation”, the newspaper reported. Another photographer working for the same outlet was also stripped of his accreditation after taking pictures of the protests in Hamburg and “has not received any response as to the reason why, despite inquiring about it”, according to the same newspaper. The two main German journalist associations, DJV and dju in ver.di have contested these restrictions.

Furthermore, in the context of the summit, numerous journalists have been victims of police violence while covering the protests taking place in the city. Freelance journalist Flo Smith, who was on the scene on 7 July, has reported that he and his colleagues were insulted by police officers and hit with tear gas, despite the fact that they were identifiable by their cameras and press cards.
Newspaper Taz reported a dialogue between a police officer and a journalist during which the journalist was subjected to threats and insults. Other journalists also reported being victim of attacks by protesters.
02 Dec 2019
On 20 November 2019, the Administrative Court at Berlin ruled in two cases (VG 27 K 516.17, 519.17) that the withdrawal of accreditation by the Federal Press Office had been unlawful, as such withdrawals were based on inaccurate facts and the legal provisions for such withdrawal were not met.
20 Nov 2019
On 17 November 2019, media reported that the Internal Investigation Service had identified 156 cases of misbehavior by policemen, which it had filed with the Hamburg Prosecutor’s Office. 103 of these cases had been closed by the Prosecutor’s Office for lack of evidence supporting criminal behaviour. One indictment against a policeman was issued on charges of physical assault against a plainclothes colleague.
22 Jul 2019
In the summer of 2018, the Hamburg Public Prosecutor's Office had opened 138 preliminary investigations, mostly for assault in the exercise of public authority, and the Internal Investigation Service at the Hamburg Administration of the Interior had 152 administrative investigations under way.
16 Aug 2017
On 11 August 2017, eight journalists filed suit against the Federal Press Office before the Administrative Court at Berlin, to find that the deprivation of their accreditation was illegal.
24 Jul 2017
On 18 July 2017, the President of the Federal Criminal Office (BKA) replied to a letter sent by Deutscher Journalisten Verband, explaining the accreditation practice.
State replies
06 Sep 2017
Response by the German Federal Government

Key information :

Flo Smith

A freelance journalist who was covering protests taking place in Hamburg on 7 July.
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