10th August 2020
Journalists Protest
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‘Without journalism, there is no democracy’ protest in Barcelona

At least 65 journalists have been injured whilst covering protests against the verdict and sentence of the Catalan Trial so far, with statistics showing that roughly 75% of those incidents have come from police officers, according to Media.cat.

In the vast majority of cases, the writers, photographers and presenters were attacked despite being easily identifiable by the bright orange coloured vests and armbands that signify accreditation.

ALSO READ: Nine days of protests in Catalonia, and on-going …

Rubber bullets have been fired and rocks thrown at identifiable journalists, as well as various police charges have been reported.

On Tuesday, a demonstration took place in Plaça Catalunya in the centre of Barcelona to denounce the aggressions against journalists. On the organisers’ website, they argue that attacks from police are intended to intimidate reporters to distance them from the ‘abuses’ the police forces can commit.

ALSO READ: Human Rights Commissioner at CoE condemns ‘disproportionate use of force’

‘Without journalism, there is no democracy,’ a joint statement from journalists’ associations in Catalonia read. ‘Every time someone blocks the work of a journalist they are going against the system of democracy.’

Journalists Protest
Journalists protesting in central Barcelona on 22 October 2019. (Daniel Schwartz)

Sira Esclasans was covering the chaos on the streets of Barcelona last week when she was shot in the leg with a foam bullet. ‘I was with a group of journalists clearly identifiable in between the line of police and protesters,’ she explained. ‘They shot a foam bullet directly at my leg. A colleague helped me out of the risk area, and from there I went home because I couldn’t stand properly on my leg,’ she said.

ALSO READ: Police in spotlight as 58 journalists injured during week

Sergi Alcácer was another photojournalist covering last week’s riots when he was hit by police. ‘The police started hitting a colleague of mine, I took out my phone to begin recording it,’ he said. ‘Then another officer saw me and started hitting me. Thankfully I had my backpack on which protected me from the blows otherwise, I would have really hurt my back.’

Human rights group Amnesty International denounced the ‘excessive use of force’ that police have been employing, and published a report that describes scenes of excessive use of force ‘including inappropriate and unjustified use of batons and other defensive equipment against people who posed no risk, including journalists.’

ALSO READ: Spanish PM visits Barcelona, refusing to talk or meet with Catalan president

Amnesty International’s director for Europe Marie Struthers called the high number of people, demonstrators as well as journalists, injured at protests ‘worrying’ and said that the ‘Spanish and Catalan police’s excessive use of force was not acceptable.’

The Council of Europe has also expressed its concern regarding the ‘disproportionate use of force and inappropriate use of anti-riot weapons by polic’ during last week’s protests.

ALSO READ: Protestors ask Spain to ‘sit and talk’ with Catalonia

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