The International Federation of Journalists today accused Italian police of violence against media staff and heavy-handed tactics that "have put reporters at risk and show contempt for press freedom" in the confrontation with protestors at the G8 Summit over the weekend.
"We have had numerous reports of reporters and news teams caught up in the crossfire of some brutal policing," said Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ, the world's largest journalists' organisation. "We demand a full investigation into how the police have acted and particularly how they have compromised journalists' rights and put reporters at risk."
The IFJ said that subterfuge on the part of the police had contributed to problems for reporters on the spot. "We understand that some police dressed up as journalists using media tabards. Such a tactic is reprehensible. It inspired fury among protesters and put honest journalists at risk of violence from all sides," he said. The IFJ joined the Italian Journalists' Federation (FNSI) in condemning the police tactics and supported FNSI protests over police raids on a Genoa school housing protesters in which journalists were also hurt.
The IFJ further backed a protest by its British affiliate the National Union of Journalists over injuries inflicted by police on John Elliot, a reporter for The Times of London.
The IFJ also condemned a raid by police on the Genoa news centre of the alternative news network Indymedia. "This raid was a deliberate attempt to seize photographs and video footage of earlier police actions and is a serious violation of journalists' rights to gather information without interference," said White.
The Indymedia network was established after Seattle to provide news and information to a global community about globalisation developments. "It appears that this news team has been deliberately targeted," said the IFJ.
"Journalists' throughout Europe and around the world are horrified by the scale of the violence and the complete disregard by the authorities for the safety of media people," said the IFJ, "These incidents must be fully and independently investigated."