The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists for press freedom, today called on authorities in Spain and Catalonia to ensure an end to police attacks on journalists covering protests following a Spanish Supreme Court ruling jailing leaders of the Catalan independence movement.
According to local media reports, at least three journalists were injured by police at the Barcelona airport yesterday, including Elise Gazengel of France24 and Pol Pareja of the Spanish news website Eldiario.es. Both journalists said they were wearing vests and armbandsissued by journalist associations identifying them as members of the press. Pareja reported in a tweet that police had manhandled several journalists and blocked them from approaching the events for reporting purposes.
With Catalonia braced for further protests, IPI urged the Spanish interior ministry and its homologue in the Catalan government to respect the right of journalists to do their jobs:
“Attacks on journalists are an attack on press freedom, a basic pillar of Spanish democracy that the authorities reportedly behind these incidents should be defending. Any attack on a journalist also denies the public’s right to be informed on events of public interest, which undoubtedly includes the Spanish Supreme Court’s sentence and the reactions it has generated. We urge Spain to ensure that all journalists reporting on the protests can do so freely and without fear of violence at the hands of state authorities”, IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen.
Local journalist and free expression groups, including the Platform in Defence of Free Expression (PDLI), have also condemned the attacks and urged Spain’s acting interior minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, to investigate.
Journalist groups in Catalonia have launched the campaign #ProuAgressionsPeriodistes (“No more attacks on journalists”) to raise public and official awareness of the need to protect journalist safety.