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Police officers are seen in Quito, Ecuador, on October 3, 2019. Police officers recently attacked a group of journalists covering a protest in Quito. (Reuters/Daniel Tapia)

Police attack journalists covering protests in Ecuador

October 4, 2019 1:54 PM ET

Miami, October 4, 2019 -- Ecuadoran authorities should ensure that journalists can cover protests safely, and should hold police officers who assault journalists to account, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Yesterday, police officers pushed, kicked, and sprayed tear gas at a group of about 20 journalists in Quito, the capital, according to news reports and a report by local press freedom group Fundamedios. The journalists were covering a protest against the government’s move to end fuel subsidies, which has sparked demonstrations throughout the country, according to news reports. President Lenín Moreno yesterday ordered a nationwide state of emergency, empowering the military to keep order on the streets, after clashes between protesters and police, according to those reports.

"Ecuador police should ensure the safety of the journalists during protests, not use force against them or block them from reporting," said CPJ South and Central America Program Coordinator Natalie Southwick in New York. "Police violence against the press is unacceptable. Authorities should hold the police to account and ensure that journalists can perform their jobs without fearing for their safety."

The journalists were wearing clearly marked press vests at the time they were attacked, according to Fundamedios. Following the attack, the Ecuadoran president’s office issued a statement on Twitter calling on protesters to demonstrate peacefully.

CPJ called the Ecuadoran National Police for comment, but no one answered the call.

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