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Treatment of journalists at environmental protest in Canada raises concern

PEN Canada's National Affairs Committee is concerned by the wrongful treatment of journalists during recent anti-fracking protests at Elsipogtog, NB, particularly the arrest of Halifax Media Co-op journalist Miles Howe who was arrested while taking pictures on Oct. 17. The RCMP twice reduced charges against Howe before finally releasing him with no charges.

“No one in Canada may be arrested for the simple act of photographing or filming in public places or on private property that is open to the public,” said William Kowalski, Chair of PEN Canada's National Affairs Committee.

PEN Canada is also concerned that journalists from several news outlets had their equipment confiscated temporarily by protesters at Elsipogtog. Journalists and others have the right to photograph or film without unreasonable or illegal interference. Journalists must be free to do their work without harassment, intimidation, or fear of reprisal.

Our constitution explicitly protects freedom of the press and other media of communication as essential elements of freedom of expression.

Background

Filming and photography rights

PEN Canada has taken an active interest in public photography and filming rights. This is of particular concern given recent examples of the infringement on these rights.

During the G20 protests that took place in Toronto in 2010, a number of journalists had their equipment confiscated and were subjected to aggressive crowd dispersal techniques.

In 2012, while searching a home, police prevented neighbours from filming them and confiscated the homeowners' cellphones so they could not take pictures.

In June 2013, Toronto Star photographer Alex Consiglio was arrested for trespassing while taking pictures of an injured GO Transit officer at Union Station in Toronto.

Full text on these cases available here.
Pocketbook guide to photography and filming rights available here.

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