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Argentina27 February 2003

Call for investigation into police violence against journalists

Reporters Without Borders deplored physical attacks by police against four journalists with América TV and Crónica TV as they were covering the use of force against civilians by police, and it asked for these incidents to be investigated.

"We call for an administrative enquiry to identify the officials responsible for these attacks," Reporters Without Borders said in a letter to justice minister Juan José Alvarez. "More that 40 journalists were physically attacked while doing their job in 2002, often by members of the police, and it is time to put an end to the impunity they enjoy," the organisation said.

Julián Sequeira and Michael Carcachi, cameramen with the programme "Puntodoc/2" of the TV channel América TV, were badly beaten by members of the Argentine Federal Police (PFA) on 25 February as they were covering the eviction of around 100 people from a building in Buenos Aires which, according to local authorities, was in danger of collapsing.

Members of the anti-riot police hit Sequeira, breaking his nose, and seized the camera he was using to film them as they used violence to force their way into the building. Carcachi was attacked as he was filming a victim of the police operation. They police hit him after he had clearly identified himself as a journalist and when he was at some distance from the police operation.

The police detained both cameramen as well as the programme’s producer, Maximiliano García Sola, for trying to film the incidents. They were set free at 8:30 p.m. the same day after being charged with "resisting authorities." All three believed the aim of their arrest was to prevent pictures of the police violence from appearing on TV.

The Union of Buenos Aires Press Workers (UTPBA) reported that Norberto Ortiz of the TV channel Crónica TV was seriously injured the same day by a rubber bullet that hit him near the left eye. This occurred as he was covering the dispersal by police of a demonstration outside the courthouse in Comodoro Py (Buenos Aires province) during the trial of members of Quebracho, an organisation known to carry out acts of violence during demonstrations.

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