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Two journalists in Venezuela subjected to degrading treatment at police station

On the pretence that two journalists were going to enable the escape of highly dangerous criminals, officials of the Scientific, Penal and Criminalistic Investigations Corps (CICPC) in Villa de Cura, Aragua state, handcuffed and arrested journalist Beatriz Lara Mendoza and graphic reporter Alfredo Parada of El Aragueño newspaper, and subjected them to physical and verbal assault, humiliation and ill-treatment.

This happened on the morning of Friday June 19, 2015 when, in their usual tour through the Zamora municipality, the reporter crew went to a news conference by congressman Elvis Amoroso, vice-president of the national assembly in Villa de Cura. However, according to Globovisión photojournalist José Luis Camejo, they were erroneously summoned to a CICPC sub-delegation from where they were to go to a rural area of Zamora municipality.

When the reporter crews arrived at the police sub-delegation, several highly dangerous criminals were being arrested and this piqued the journalists' interest, who got out of their car to cover the arrests. When they did this, Lara Mendoza and Parada were brutally assaulted and put into a jail cell by CICPC sub-delegation officials.

Camejo, working for Globovisión in Aragua, witnessed the incident and stopped to ask why they were being arbitrarily arrested. A sub-inspector threatened to also arrest him, which he soon did. José Luis Camejo's vehicle was also remanded into custody.

The testimony given by journalist Beatriz Lara Mendoza is heartwrenching. Shedding tears and in a state of anguish, in a phone conversation with Amira Muci, the general secretary of CNP Aragua, and Gregoria Díaz, the correspondent for IPYS in the region, Lara Mendoza recounted that she was beaten, made to strip her clothes off and was humiliated by CICPC officials in an inexplicable verbal and physical assault against her and her workmate.

“They yanked me by the hair and beat my forehead against the wall. I was forced to squat so that they could inspect my private parts and corroborate that I was not carrying a weapon, they handcuffed me to my coworker onto a post. All that was left for us to do was pray”, she said.

An order was given to charge them for putting up resistance against the authorities and their alleged complicity in the liberation of some jailed persons.

After a few hours they were released, while the officials apologized for what had happened, alleging that “they are under a lot of stress and the sub-inspector is stressed out”.

This is the second physical assault against a reporter crew in Aragua so far this year, but it is the first by a state security corps acting directly and humiliating not only a journalist with extensive experience, but also a woman.

IPYS Venezuela condemns this assault against journalists in Aragua state, and demands that the Venezuelan state sanction the culprits.

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