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Lebanese police use violence against journalists

Garbage is piled along a highway in Beirut, Lebanon, September 3, 2015
Garbage is piled along a highway in Beirut, Lebanon, September 3, 2015

REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

This statement was originally published on rsf.org on 2 September 2015.

Reporters Without Borders condemns the many cases of violence against journalists by security forces in recent weeks in Beirut during demonstrations in protest against the collapse of garbage collection.

In the latest case, reporters covering yesterday's occupation of the environment ministry were forcibly ejected by riot police when force was used to clear the building of protesters, who blame the minister for the crisis. Journalists inside and outside the building were hit by policemen, who either confiscated their equipment or rendered it inoperable.

“It is utterly unacceptable for the Lebanese police to use this kind of violence against journalists,” said Alexandra El Khazen, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Middle East and Maghreb desk.

“Journalists are not trash and they should not have been targeted. They were there just to report the facts and do what journalists are supposed to do. We condemn these attacks, which show that the authorities are bent on stopping media coverage of the use of unprecedented violence to crack down on demonstrations.”

Foutoun Raad, an LBCI TV reporter who was inside the environment ministry with about 15 demonstrators, was threatened and hit by the policemen who forcibly escorted her out of the building. In a report filmed later outside, she said she had to use her telephone to continue providing coverage after her cameraman's transmission cable was deliberately cut.

The demonstrations have been growing in intensity for the past month. In the protests held on 22 and 23 August, around ten journalists were attacked by members of the security forces, who manhandled them, hit them with batons and threw stones at them, as well as deliberately damaging their equipment.

A video showing LBCI journalist Nada Andraos being beaten and manhandled has gone viral online.

Lebanon is ranked 98th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

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