News

December 8, 2020

RSF files complaint about police violence against photographer Ameer Al Halbi during ‘March for Freedoms’ in Paris

Ameer Al Halbi (photo: Sameer Al-Doumy/AFP).
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) filed a complaint against the prefect of the Paris police, Didier Lallement, and against person unknown, after the deliberate blow to the face with a police baton that a Syrian-born journalist received while covering a ‘March for freedoms’ in Paris in late November.

Filed jointly with the journalist concerned, freelance photographer Ameer Al Halbi, on 7 December, the complaint accuses Lallement and an unidentified police officer of responsibility for an act of deliberate violence by a person holding public authority during the “March for Freedoms” protesting against the controversial “global security” bill in Paris.


A freelancer for various media outlets including the magazine Polka and Agence France-Presse, Al Halbi was covering a police charge against protesters when a policeman hit him with a baton, fracturing his nose and left eyebrow.


He was stationed at the foot of a wall with other journalists at the time, and was clearly identifiable as a press photographer. Although he lost consciousness and although his face was covered in blood, he was not taken to hospital for two hours because the police were blocking all access roads. He is still being treated by doctors, who have told him he cannot work for the time being.


The assault on Ameer Al Halbi constitutes a violent attack on the right to inform,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “As it is the prefect of the Paris police who issues law enforcement instructions, he is directly responsible for this failure to protect journalists. This is why we are lodging a complaint against him.”


RSF already filed a complaint against person unknown and against the prefect on 27 November in connection with police violence against three journalists during the forcible evacuation of a migrant tent camp on Place de la République, in central Paris, on 23 November. In December 2019, RSF filed a joint complaint with 13 journalists who were the victims of police violence while covering “gilets jaunes” (yellow vest) protests.


France is ranked 34th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2020 World Press Freedom Index.