Reporters attacked while covering Covid pass protests in four EU countries
At least seven journalists were physically attacked and others were threatened while covering protests in four European countries on Saturday (24 July) against the use of Covid-19 passes. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on authorities to provide reporters with better protection and to investigate physical attacks thoroughly.
Demonstrators harassing journalists during the protests in Italy, France, Spain and Slovakia treated them as if they worked for propaganda mouthpieces of the governments that are conditioning access to certain public places on the possession of a Covid-19 pass.
“Journalists should not be scapegoats for protesters’ disagreements with their governments,” said Pavol Szalai, the head of RSF’s European Union and Balkans desk. “Subjecting them to attacks, threats and obstruction while they are covering events as independent observers is unacceptable. We call for journalists to be given effective protection during protests and for physical attacks to be investigated thoroughly. The right to report the news must prevail.”
In Italy, the most violent attack took place in Florence, where Saverio Tommasi, a video reporter for the Fanpage.it news website, was kicked and insulted by protesters for several hours and his camera was damaged. Protesters insulted reporters for RAI television in Rome and reporters for the newspapers Il Secolo XIX and Genova 24 in Genova. Journalists were also insulted in Milan, where one was pushed by protesters.
Attacked and insulted
In France, two journalists with the France 2 TV channel were jeered, physically attacked and insulted during a march in Marseille. They were forced to leave the protest. Toufik de Planoise, a reporter for Radio BIP / Média 25, was punched by a far-right activist while covering a demonstration in Besançon. In Paris, two reporters for the BFMTV news channel were branded as “collaborators” – an insult that was repeatedly chanted by demonstrators, who finally surrounded them, forcing them to leave.
In Spain, demonstrators opposed to mask-wearing and to vaccinating minors against Covid-19 threatened and insulted Antena 3 TV reporter Sonia López in the capital, Madrid. They also booed Telemadrid journalist Antonio Campos and tried to prevent him from working. A team of the channel LaSexta was also booed, the journalists called "murderers" by protesters shouting "television, manipulation".
In Slovakia, protesters attacked, jostled and insulted a reporter and cameraman working for the country’s biggest privately-owned TV channel, TV Markiza, obstructing and damaging their camera.
Spain, France, Slovakia and Italy are ranked 29th, 34th, 35th and 41st respectively in RSF's 2021 World Press Freedom Index.