Netherlands: Journalists' safety increasingly under threat

Riots, which took place in several cities in the Netherlands on 23 January following the government's decision to impose a 9pm curfew aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus, resulted in several journalists being physically attacked amid a growing hostility towards the media. The International and European Federation of Journalists (IFJ/EFJ) join their affiliate in the Netherlands, the NVJ, in condemning the attacks and expressing alarm over the escalation of violence against media professionals since last year.


The unrest started last weekend during protests against the curfew which came into force on Saturday. At least seven cases of violence against journalists and media workers have occurred in the last four days in Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Enschede, Helmond, Tilburg, The Hague and Haarlem. Journalists were insulted, assaulted and pelted with stones.

In addition, last Saturday, a man from Almere was arrested for posting a video threatening journalists who had reported on the recent riot on Museumplein in Amsterdam the week before. He advised public broadcaster NOS employees and journalists to 'flee the Netherlands' because something will be 'done' to them. On Saturday, a security guard who accompanied a NOS TV crew was pepper-sprayed in the face by rioters.

In response to the latest incidents, Thomas Bruning, general secretary of the Netherlands Association of Journalists (NVJ), called on politicians to reiterate the important role of journalism.

"This is shocking. Aggression towards journalists is increasing from weekly to daily frequency, it is not normal for journalists to go out with security guards,” he added. He will consult editors to ensure journalists can continue to do their work safely.  

IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said "Journalists' safety is not guaranteed in the Netherlands at the moment and steps must be taken to resolve this immediately in the name of press freedom and journalists ' right to work without fear or threats'. 

 EFJ General Secretary Ricardo Gutiérrez called on the authorities to do the utmost to protect journalists and investigate all attacks.

"Just in one year, over 100 assaults against journalists were reported to the Dutch platform Persveilig. Persveilig is a monitoring platform launched by the NVJ, the Association of Editors-in-Chief, the Police and the Public Prosecution Service to help journalists who encounter violence or aggression in the course of their work".

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

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