EspañolOn Tuesday, August 19, the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) addressed a letter to the police forces in the city of Ferguson, Missouri over actions taken against journalists to obstruct their coverage of the events resulting from the police killing of Michael Brown.
“The journalists covering news in Ferguson have been exposed to dangerous situations similar to that of war zones; however, the confrontational attitude of police limits the flow of information and the rights of citizens to know more about a situation of national interest,” said Claudio Paolillo, chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information.
In the letter sent to police in Ferguson, the IAPA denounces the various restrictions that have been placed on journalists covering the ongoing situation and addresses various questionable arrests of press workers that have been made.
On August 13, police questioned and detained Wesley Lowery of the Washington Post and Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post, while they sat at a local McDonald’s recharging their phones. “Their statements indicate they were physically mistreated, harassed, handcuffed, and denied answers to their repeated requests for information as to why they were taken into custody,” reads the IAPA’s letter.
Several other journalists have reported similar experiences with police in Ferguson, and on Sunday, August 17, the police detained at least three others: Robert Klemko of Sports Illustrated magazine; Neil Munshi, a reporter for Chicago’s Financial Times, and Rob Crilly, a foreign correspondent for the London Telegraph.
Paolillo also stated that the restrictions the police in Ferguson have imposed on the movements and free exercise of the media are a violation of the Declaration of Chapultepec and the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.