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Argentina14 January 2008

TV station illegally holds five of its journalists for 60 hours

Reporters Without Borders is appalled by the way the management of Buenos Aires-based TV station Canal 9 held five of its journalists - Matías Castro, Laura Mayocchi, Hernán Sinainside, Verónica Lazzaro and Carina Alvarez - inside its headquarters without access to water, electricity, air conditioning and toilets for 60 hours, from 7 to 9 January, after they protested against the dismissal of six colleagues. Two of them, Verónica Lazzaro and Carina Alvarez, had to be hospitalised.

“A labour dispute should be resolved by dialogue and negotiation, not by such brutal methods,” the press freedom organisation said. “We condemn the behaviour of Canal 9’s management, we voice our solidarity with the journalists who were illegally detained and we call on the station’s owner to provide an explanation.”

The five journalists, all Canal 9 staff members, were initially prevented from entered the TV station’s headquarters by security personnel on 7 January because they were protesting against the dismissal of five fellow employees.

After forcing their way into they building, the journalists were held their against their will for the next 60 hours. The station’s management cut off water, electricity and air-conditioning although there was a heat wave in Buenos Aires. The detained journalists were also denied access to toilets. Two of them, Lazzaro and Alvarez, finally had to be rushed to hospital.

Canal 9’s management has been at odds with its staff since the station was acquired in January 2007 by a US businessman of Mexican origin, Remigio González González. The management wants to shed 200 posts. The staff say they were never notified they were being let go. According to the employees, the new management has reacted to staff discontent with disciplinary measures and unannounced dismissals, while some journalists have even been placed under video surveillance.

Tomás Eliaschev, the editor of perfil.com, a news website that is part of the Perfil press group, was attacked and badly beaten on 13 September 2007 in a dispute between the Perfil group’s management and the Buenos Aires Press Workers Union (UTPBA).



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