Sign up for weekly updates

Journalists assaulted by market vendors in Ibagué

(FLIP/IFEX) - On 10 December 2008, two journalists were assaulted by market vendors who were being evicted from a public space in the centre of the city of Ibagué, Tolima department. The incident took place at approximately 6:45 p.m. (local time). Throughout the day, riot police had been evicting the vendors, which resulted in a number of confrontations that were being covered by local journalists.

Journalist Adriana Montealegre, of the "El Nuevo Día" newspaper, and Francy Robayo, of Radio Súper radio station, were among the journalists covering the story. Montealegre was taking a photograph of a vendor being detained by police when several vendors began to insult the two journalists, accusing them of taking pictures for the police. Montealegre and Robayo were trying to get away from the vendors when one of them began hitting the journalists repeatedly with a stick. Despite the fact that several police officers intervened to help Montealegre and Robayo, the vendors followed the journalists and began assaulting them once again, pushing them to the ground and throwing canned items and rocks at them while yelling insults. The police once again intervened and finally managed to help the journalists escape. A police officer accompanied the two journalists to the "El Nuevo Día" office.

Montealegre told FLIP that she was not seriously hurt in the incident but noted that the assault would have been much worse if the police had not intervened.

The commander of the Tolima police department, Colonel Julio César Santoyo, told FLIP that the city of Ibagué recently approved a citizens' initiative calling for the recuperation of the city's central public space. After the vendors at the informal market located in the city's centre refused to be relocated to a park, the police began to forcibly remove them. Santoyo said the journalists were simply carrying out their work and, as such, the police provided them with protection. Finally, the police commander said that he would continue to be willing to assist journalists in their coverage of this type of story.

FLIP is concerned about this incident, which constitutes yet another attack on both the physical safety of journalists and on their ability to carry out their work. The organisation also highlights the timely intervention of the police and calls on the prosecutor's office to punish those responsible for the assault on Montealegre and Robayo.

Latest Tweet:

Angola takes progressive step forward by discarding "vices against nature provision in its law, widely interpreted…

Get more stories like this

Sign up for our newsletters and get the most important free expression news delivered to your inbox.