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Media watchdog calls for probes into attacks against reporters

Reporters Without Borders, or RSF, said governments must do much more to protect journalists following the attacks and threats on July 24 in France, Italy, Spain and Slovakia

AFP , Wednesday 28 Jul 2021
Nicaragua
Pro and anti-government supporters scuffle during a funeral for Nicaraguan poet and priest Ernesto Cardenal at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Managua, Nicaragua, March 3, 2020. Reuters
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A media watchdog said at least seven journalists were "physically attacked" and others threatened during protests in four EU countries at the weekend against government virus curbs and called for investigations into the incidents.

Reporters Without Borders, or RSF, said governments must do much more to protect journalists following the attacks and threats on July 24 in France, Italy, Spain and Slovakia.

"Journalists should not be scapegoats for protesters' disagreements with their governments," said Pavol Szalai, head of RSF's European Union and Balkans desk.

"Subjecting them to attacks, threats and obstruction while they are covering events as independent observers is unacceptable," Szalai said.

"We call for journalists to be given effective protection during protests and for physical attacks to be investigated thoroughly. The right to report the news must prevail," Szalai added.

In the Italian city of Florence, Fanpage.it video reporter Saverio Tommasi "was kicked and insulted by protesters for several hours and his camera was damaged," RSF said.

It added that protesters insulted reporters for RAI television in Rome and reporters for Il Secolo XIX and Genova 24 newspapers in Genova. One journalist was pushed in Milan and others there insulted.

In France, two journalists with France 2 TV channel "were jeered, physically attacked and insulted" during a protest in the southern port of Marseille.

A far-right activist punched Toufik de Planoise, a reporter for Radio BIP/Media 25 covering a demonstration in Besancon, RSF said.

In Paris, demonstrators branded two reporters for the BFMTV news channel "collaborators" before surrounding them and forcing them to leave, it said.

Demonstrators "threatened and insulted" Antena 3 TV reporter Sonia Lopez in the Spanish capital Madrid as they protested mask wearing and vaccinations of minors.

They also "booed" Telemadrid journalist Antonio Campos and "tried to prevent him from working," RSF said.

It added that protesters also "booed" a channel LaSexta team and called journalists "murderers" and accused television stations of "manipulation."

In Slovakia, "protesters attacked, jostled and insulted a reporter and cameraman working for the country's biggest privately-owned TV channel, TV Markiza, obstructing and damaging their camera," RSF said.

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