Madrid, 31 March 2014 – Various journalists were directly attacked by the police whilst covering a protest on Saturday 29 March 2014. The following video was filmed by journalists covering the protest, who soon became the target of police agression also:
Access Info Europe today expressed concern that such attacks interfere directly with press freedom and the free flow of information, and are likely to have a chilling effect on the work of journalists in covering street demonstrations and other similar events.
“Using violence against journalists who are working to report protests has no place in a democratic State. It is an attack against freedom of expression and information,” commented Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info Europe.
Access Info Europe condemns the violence and calls on the Spanish Government to:
» Conduct an urgent investigation into what happened and ensure that it is made public,
» Identify those responsible, including individual police officers and their superiors where approriate, and impose adequate sanctions,
» Make a declaration condeming the violence and emphasising the importance of freedom of the media in a democracy.
Access Info Europe has also informed the OSCE Representative for the Freedom of the Media about what happened. Recently, OSCE representatives were present in Madrid during protests on 22 March, and will soon report as to whether the Spanish Government respected the right to protest during this march.
It is not the first time the Spanish police have made it difficult for the media to report on protests. In September 2012, the police entered Atocha Railway Station in Madrid, and as well as threatening travellers on the platforms who were not part of the protests, they threw a journalist’s camera to the floor (see the video, here). Amnesty International asked for a copy of the report by the Spanish Government analysing this incident with the police, but were not given access.