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Colombia6 September 2005

TV cameraman assaulted by police after covering squat

Reporters Without Borders voiced outrage today at the way the Bogotá police mistreated cameraman Germán Palma of the Noticias Uno TV station on 2 September after he and reporter Patricia Uribe covered the occupation of abandoned homes in Patio Bonito, in the south of the city, by persons displaced by the civil war.

“The way the police detained Palma constitutes outright assault,” the press freedom organisation said. “We call on the authorities to deal with particular severity with state employees who abuse their authority in this manner, without respect for rights or persons.”

After spending two hours filming in Patio Bonito, Palma and Uribe were in the process of leaving when they were asked to identify themselves by police who were keeping the neighbourhood under close surveillance and were monitoring everyone entering and leaving.

The police let Uribe pass but detained Palma on the grounds that he was disrespectful to a colonel. When Palma refused to accompany the police to the police stations, they threw him to the ground and beat him until he surrendered his camera.

The police finally escorted Palma to the police station where they broke open his camera to withdraw the cassette. He was questioned by a senior officer as to how he had managed to get into Patio Bonito and who had helped him. He refused to reply.

Palma was finally able to recover his damaged camera and cassette and was allowed to leave. Before going home, he saw a doctor about the bruises and pain resulting from the beating.

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