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Journalist assaulted by police, arrested while covering drug raid

(CEMESP/IFEX) - A combined team of officers from the Liberia National Police and the Drug Enforcement authority physically attacked and arrested a journalist for attempting to cover a police operation on 31 August 2007.

Journalist J. Rufus Paul of the "Daily Observer" newspaper was arrested for what the police call "trying to cover a raiding exercise without invitation."

The police were carrying out an early morning raid on a building said to be a center of illicit narcotic activities in central Monrovia, when Paul, a resident of the district, alerted by neighbors, decided to cover the operation.

Upon arrival at the scene, Paul was confronted by a female police officer who asked him what he was doing there with a camera. Though Paul quickly identified himself as reporter wishing to cover the police operation, he was ordered arrested by the officer in charge of the operation.

The police's argument is that Paul should have sought permission from police headquarters before embarking on coverage of the operation.

The reporter's identity card and camera were immediately taken away from him and he was handcuffed and placed among those arrested in connection with the illicit drug activity in the area, and taken to the police headquarters by a group of officers.

According to Paul, who sustained a minor injury in the process, he was taken before the Deputy Police Commissioner for Crime Services upon arrival at the Police Headquarters, who apologized to him for his men's actions but warned him that as a journalist he has to be prepared to face police brutality.

Meanwhile, the Liberia National Police has promised to investigate the matter.

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