RSF alarmed by hostility towards journalists covering protests in Canada
Alarmed by the mistreatment of journalists in Ottawa, Canada, where reporters have suffered hostile treatment, access denials, serious threats, and physical abuse, while covering the “Freedom Convoy” protests, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on authorities to end these abuses swiftly and ensure the safety of journalists on the field.
In late January, when the series of protests and blockades established by the “Freedom Convoy” to protest vaccine mandates and other restrictions began, journalists started reporting difficulty doing their jobs, and increasing hostility on the ground. Journalists reported experiencing vitriolic insults, death threats, and physical harassment and abuse. The hostility towards reporters has continued throughout the duration of the movement, including online, and has prompted several Canadian journalist and media associations to condemn the movement and call for increased protection and safety of journalists.
“The hostility journalists have confronted while covering the Ottawa demonstrations, both from demonstrators and authorities, is unacceptable,” said Clayton Weimers, Deputy Director of RSF’s Washington, DC office. “These events go to show that protecting the safety and independence of journalists is an ongoing challenge everywhere, even in democratic countries which value press freedom."
Despite journalists in Canada being guaranteed access to protests under law, credentialed reporters have also been denied entry to newsworthy areas and events and have even been arrested by members of the police, according to an open letter authored by the Canadian Association of Journalists.
Canada is ranked 14th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2021 World Press Freedom Index.