Security guards who attacked journalists go unpunished

Reporters Without Borders condemns the authorities’ refusal to investigate an attack on two newspaper journalists, Yeni Musavat reporter Elmin Badalov and Milli Yol deputy editor Anar Gerayly, by a wealthy businessman’s private security guards.

The two journalists were photographing luxury homes in the Baku neighbourhood of Shuvlan on 28 July when they were attacked and beaten by security guards. The guards held them for more than three hours, interrogated them, threatened to put them under permanent surveillance and warned them not to report the incident to the authorities.

Yeni Musavat’s management filed a complaint with the interior ministry but, until now, the police insist that the journalist were not subjected to any violence and that, on the contrary, they invaded businessman Emin Aleskerov’s privacy by taking photographs.

The police have not, however, produced any evidence that the two journalists took photos inside Aleskerov’s home and the gate to his property was much too high for them to have been able to climb it. The villa’s security staff does not deny using force against the journalists and it has been established that Badalov and Gerayly were taken into the guard room and the contents of their camera’s memory card was erased.

The police acknowledge that the two journalists sustained a lot bruising but claim that a forensic medical examination indicated that they could have had “a serious fall, from a gate, for example.”

The authorities gave assurances last year that constitutional amendments concerning a ban on taking photos without the consent of the persons concerned would not be used against journalists. Reporters Without Borders regrets that it now seems that this law is being using to restrict the work of the media.