Journalists attacked by police

New York, February 28, 2003—Three Argentine journalists were attacked by police in two separate incidents earlier this week while covering street protests in the city of Buenos Aires, according to CPJ sources.

At around noon on Tuesday, February 25, Federal Police agents attacked producer Maximiliano García Solla and cameraman Julián Sequeira, of the biweekly television show “Puntodoc.” The incidents occurred while officers were evicting more than 100 people from a Buenos Aires building that the municipal government says is in danger of collapsing. The journalists were reporting on the confrontation between the police and the tenants, according to local press reports.

The police beat Sequeira, breaking his nose and fracturing two ribs, and seized his equipment. He was held at a local police station and later taken to the hospital for treatment. The security forces also punched and kicked producer García Solla, who was taken to the same police station and released several hours later. He faces charges for “resisting authority.”

On February 26, anchor Norberto Ortiz, from the 24-hour cable news station Crónica TV, was hit in the face by a rubber bullet while covering a demonstration outside the gates of a federal courthouse where four political activists were on trial for inciting violence during demonstrations eight years ago.

Riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets, and masked protesters responded by throwing rocks and sticks. Ortiz was taken to a hospital for treatment before being released several hours later.

During the last six months, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has documented several cases in which journalists have been targeted with physical aggression and harassment while covering demonstrations, especially in Buenos Aires. The latest incidents are particularly worrying because police forces were directly involved in the violence.

“The Argentine government must protect journalists who are working in a hostile environment by thoroughly investigating these violent attacks against the press,” said CPJ’s acting director Joel Simon.