Recent police violence against journalists during demonstrations in France disturbing, says OSCE Representative

OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today said the recent acts of police violence toward journalists covering demonstrations in France are disturbing, and needs to be addressed.

“Journalists must be able to cover demonstrations and public actions freely and safely, without any interference,” Mijatović said. “The responsibility of ensuring journalists’ safety falls on law enforcement.”

In a number of different incidents in France during the spring, members of the media have been subject to police violence when covering demonstrations and public protests. They include:

  • On 31 March, Citizenside photographer Maxime Reynié was hit and injured by policemen at a demonstration in Toulouse;
  • On 12 April, while filming a public protest in Paris, Spanish journalist Jaime Alekos was injured by tear gas grenades and rubber bullets;
  • On 28 April, at a demonstration in Paris, a policeman grabbed photographer Simon Guillemin’s camera and ordered him not to take pictures. In a separate incident L’Express journalist Lucas Godignon was sprayed with tear gas;
  • On 1 May, stun grenades were fired at journalists covering a demonstration, injuring photographer Fab Enero, IP3 Press reporter Aurélien Morissard and others;
  • On 17 May, police fired tear gas grenade at photo journalist Joël Labat when he was covering a demonstration in Place Denfert-Rochereau in Paris;
  • On 26 May, at Place de La Nation in Paris, a policeman hit Politis magazine editor Michel Soudaisat in the stomach. In a separate incident, a freelance photographer was seriously injured when a gendarme threw a sting grenade to disperse the crowd;
  • On 2 June, police pushed, shoved and hit journalists with batons while dispersing a protest in Rennes.

“These acts of police violence against journalists must be thoroughly and swiftly investigated,” Mijatović said. “The authorities must also take steps to ensure that law enforcement agencies respect the rights of members of the media to do their work.”