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Gabon28 April 2008

Police beat TV cameraman who filmed police attack on protest organiser

Reporters Without Borders condemns the beating which cameraman Claude Aba Mboula of privately-owned TV station Télé Africa received from police when he filmed police violence during a street protest against cost of living increases in Libreville on 25 April.

“Cases of journalists on the job being physically attacked by police are increasing dangerously in Gabon and must one day be punished or else the climate of impunity will just encourage them to continue,” the press freedom organisation said. “The Gabonese authorities must carry out an investigation into the attack on Mboula and punish the police officers responsible.”

The police beat Mboula and seized his camera after noticing that he was filming their use of violence against Jean-Robert Menié, the spokesman of the civil society coalition called Fairness and Quality that organised the march. Mboula was taken to a Libreville hospital where he was treated for three broken ribs. The camera was later recovered from Libreville police headquarters without the videotape of the attack on Menié, Télé Africa editor Snella Ange Pambo said.

When Télé Africa reporter Ginette Moussadji was clubbed by police in similar circumstances on 21 December 2005, footage of the incident was filmed by an amateur cameraman and shown on the Libreville news media, causing widespread outrage.

But neither the attack on Moussadji nor any other case of police violence against journalists has been punished or condemned by the National Council for Communication, which regulates the broadcast media.



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