Amid mounting tension throughout the country, reporters trying to cover the protests were threatened or were the targets of physical and verbal violence, and in some cases their equipment was confiscated or destroyed.
“We urgently appeal to the authorities and people of Venezuela to respect the work of journalists and not make media personnel the focus of the country’s problems,” said Emmanuel Colombié, the head of RSF’s Latin America desk.
“At this time of heightened social tension, it is essential that journalists should be able to report what is happening without being harassed. The police and judicial authorities must shed light on these acts of persecution, which are unacceptable".
This video gives an idea of the nightmare they had to endure: (credits: LaPatilla)
Momento en el que intentaron robarle los... por elnacionalweb
See also this tweet by Fernando J. Enrique (@ferchomr90):
Violencia de colectivos contra camarógrafo, Av. Fuerzas Armadas. Hoy, mediodía @GenPenaloza @Imag3n pic.twitter.com/QhyByFG8c1
— Fernando J. Enrique (@ferchomr90) 2 juin 2016
According to the Venezuelan NGO Espacio Público, at least 19 journalists were attacked in the space of just two hours in downtown Caracas. They included reporters for Vivo Play, El Universal, El Pitazo, 2001, El Nacional, Crónica Uno, NTN24 and Caraota Digital.
Several of the victims said that elected Caracas officials had a direct hand in the violence and confiscation of equipment.
RSF joins the National College of Journalists (CNP) in calling on the government to provide “real guarantees for the free exercise of journalism in the country” and in urging the police and judicial authorities and the Office of the Ombudsman (an offshoot of the public prosecutor’s office) to identify those responsible for the violence and punish them appropriately.
Venezuela is ranked 139th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index.