Canada: RSF denounces “catch-and-release” arrest of Montreal journalist Savanna Craig

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for Canadian authorities to clear journalist Savanna Craig of all wrongdoing and decries the catch-and-release tactic employed by Canadian police. Craig is the second journalist arrested in Canada under such circumstances in as many months.

Savanna Craig, a reporter for CUTV, Canada’s oldest campus-based TV facility,  was covering a pro-Palestine protest at Scotiabank’s headquarters in downtown Montreal on April 15. When police arrived at the demonstration, they rounded up Craig along with protesters, and arrested her. Craig made her press pass visible and told police she was a journalist.  

Craig is still waiting to be notified of a hearing date. The Municipal Court of Montreal was not able to comment in time for publication.

“A malicious pattern is emerging in Canada–reporters go out into the field to cover protests or police action, then are swept up indiscriminately as police arrest demonstrators. Even if the reporter isn’t charged in the end, the effect is to intimidate, impede, and ultimately chill legitimate journalistic activity. These catch-and-release tactics must stop.

Clayton Weimers
Executive Director, RSF North America

“This issue is not about me or my arrest specifically, but it is another case showing a trend in journalists being arrested in Canada. Journalists should be protected under freedom of expression within the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Their concern should be to properly report, not on worrying about whether they may be arrested for doing their job.

Savanna Craig

Canadian police use of catch-and-release tactics on journalists

Arrests of journalists in Canada are relatively rare. But there are previous incidents of police arresting reporters covering police actions and public demonstrations as a tactic to remove them from a scene. Independent journalist Brandi Morin was arrested in January 2024 while reporting on an Indigenous encampment. She was charged with obstructing a police officer, which carries a sentence of up to 2 years in prison. After advocacy from RSF and other press freedom groups, the charge was dropped. 

Award-winning photojournalist Amber Bracken and documentarian Michael Toledano were arrested while covering the construction of a controversial natural gas pipeline in British Columbia. The Canadian authorities must not use intimidation tactics to prevent journalists seeking democratic accountability from powerful institutions.

Canada is ranked 15th out of 180 countries on RSF’s 2023 World Press Freedom Index.

14/ 180
Score : 81.7
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