Repeated violence against reporters covering protests
Covering protests has become problematic for reporters, who have often been subjected to police violence. Several were injured by Flashball rounds, teargas grenades or baton blows. Others were arbitrarily detained or had their equipment seized. Some of these incidents occurred during protests against the proposed “global security” law.
Investigative journalists have also been subjected to harassment. In 2020, at least two were summoned for questioning by the IGPN (the police internal affairs department) for suspected complicity in a violation of police confidentiality. This can threaten the confidentiality of a reporter’s sources, which are not sufficiently protected by French legislation. Under a 2010 law, the authorities need only cite an “overriding public interest” in order to be able to violate the confidentiality of journalistic sources. The constitutional council rescinded a positive reform in 2016.
Editorial independence continues to be a sensitive issue because media ownership is concentrated and media outlets tend to be integrated into business groups with interests in other areas of the economy. This encourages conflicts of interest that feed mistrust of the media. The overall climate is still one of hostility towards journalists, especially on social media, even if verbal attacks by politicians seem to have let up somewhat. Vigilance will be needed in the run-up to the 2022 presidential election.
A stabbing attack in September 2020 outside the former headquarters of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, the schoolteacher Samuel Paty’s murder the following month and the historic trial of those accused of complicity in the deadly attack on Charlie Hebdo in 2015 all refocused attention on the debate about freedom of expression and religious intolerance. The long prison sentences handed down by the court at the end of this trial have unquestionable exemplary value.
34 in 2020
22.92 in 2020