During the last years, the tension in the political debate between Catalonia and Spain has moved to the streets and journalists are suffering the consequences. The last case occurred on September 11, the day of the festivity of Catalonia, when one of the pro-independence demonstrations of 300 people in front of the Catalan Parliament became the scene of violence and altercations with members of the police and some journalists who were reporting on the event.
Journalist Ángela García Romero was reporting for TVE (Televisión Española) the demonstration when a group of hooded people attacked her TV crew, first throwing some objects and water, and then breaking their equipment and preventing her from informing, disturbing her.
Un equipo de TVE ha sido agredido por parte de un grupo de manifestantes concentrados ante el Parlament. El @CdItve ha mostrado su apoyo a los profesionales de RTVE en Cataluña y a los de otros medios de comunicación y ha defendido el derecho a informar libremente pic.twitter.com/BFCR90cihS
— Telediarios de TVE (@telediario_tve) September 11, 2019
These were not the only journalists who were intimidated covering this event: Antena 3 TV’s journalist Diana Mata and her team were disturbed while reporting live with shouts and whistles that prevented them from doing their job in good conditions (see video here).
The Spanish journalists’ unions Agrupación de Periodistas de CCOO (FSC-CCOO) and Federación de Sindicatos de Periodistas (FeSP) condemned these acts and all types of behaviors that seek to coerce, harass, intimidate and condition the work of journalists, violating the fundamental right to freedom of expression and the right of citizens to receive free and truthful information.
Marta Barcenilla, Vice President of EFJ and Institutional Secretary of FSC-CCOO, analyse the seriousness of the cases everywhere, but specially in Spain:
It is unacceptable that in a country that considers itself a democracy, attacks on journalists are produced just because they are doing their job. It is an attack on a fundamental right included in article 20 of the Spanish Constitution, and an attack to the Freedom of expression. We demand that the Government of Catalonia and the Spanish State take urgent measures to prevent this type of aggression from occurring, in every demonstration and against any media outlet. In addition, we demand that the organisers of the demonstrations firmly condemn these aggressions so that they do not occur again
Quico Ràfols, President of the Sindicat de Periodistes de Catalunya (SPC) and Secretary of Organization of the FeSP, highlights the repetition of this kind of events during the last years and the need to act against these attacks.
Personally, without wanting to distort the seriousness of what happened on September 11, I am worried about the reiteration of these facts whenever there are demonstrations of one or the other side. We must defend the right to inform the citizens and the importance of journalism as an essential support for democracy.
Journalists’ unions alert of the increasing violence against journalists in demonstrations in Spain due to the escalated political debate, a fact that prevents reporters to inform properly. FSC-CCOO has registered 20 attacks on journalists in Spain during the last 2 years, 75% of them were in Barcelona.
EFJ will report to the Council of Europe these cases and the new ones that might follow in the future.