Wednesday 10 August 2011

CPJ: 'Attacks on journalists covering riots are part of a pattern of hostility against media in Europe'

The attacks against journalists covering riots in the UK reflect a wider European pattern of hostility toward the media in the course of civil disturbances, according to a Committee to Protect Journalists blog.

Written by CPJ senior advisor Jean-Paul Marthoz, a Belgian journalist and academic, the blog says: "During the 2005 riots in the French banlieues, journalists in general and television reporters in particular were also targeted by rioters and looters. Journalists are often accused of being 'part of the system' and in cahoots with the Establishment."

He adds: "Some suspect the media may be giving over incriminating evidence to the police. In the U.K., under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, the police can obtain an order from a judge forcing the media to provide unpublished material."

Marthoz quotes media law consultant David Banks saying "the courts have not often been sympathetic to media arguments that handing over material prevents them from doing their jobs. This leaves journalists caught in the middle between the police, who regard them as a hindrance, and rioters, who regard them as evidence-gatherers."

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