George Floyd’s demise has given rise to a munity of various kinds across the globe. Apart from war against discrimination, there is a cry out against throttling of free press too.
Recent cases of violation of human rights have been brought to light especially against journalists and other media professionals who have been putting their lives on the line many times to cover news and events across the world. But the protests now in the US is against brutal use of power against media professionals who were covering denouncement of systemic racism across the world vis-a-vie George Floyd.
UN Special Rapporteur David Kaye and his counterpart from the Organization of American States, Edison Lanza have publicly condemned the use of force against journalist in this case.
In a joint statement, they have expressed great disdain after receiving various complaints by the media fraternity over use of power and brutality while reporting George Floyd protests across the US and the world as well.
The statement has stressed upon the crucial role media plays as ‘essential watchdog’ in democratic societies, and the experts reminded US authorities that reporters must be afforded “the highest degree of protection” in order to perform their work freely.
In the past countries like Iran and Turkey have systematically tortured, eliminated and framed media professionals trying to throttle free speech and freedom of press. Some harrowing incidents that had come to light included photojournalist Ed Ou who was caught in the middle of a scrum covering protests in Minneapolis. He was manhandled, sprayed with teargas, pepper spray beaten so badly that he bled through his nose. Despite telling police personnel that he was media, they continued to come at him and beat pulp of his face.
The account has been corroborated by several other journalists on the ground, including the Los Angeles Times’ Carolyn Cole, who incurred an eye injury, and Molly Hennesy-Fiske, who was shot with rubber bullets several times in the leg. They describe the journalists as having been “completely against the wall, in an alcove, at least 15ft off the road to allow the police line to pass”.
The joint statement has stated and stands published on the official UN websites that “targeting media workers with lethal or less-lethal force for doing their work is prohibited under international human rights law and contrary to best policing standards. Those violating such rules must be subject to accountability and disciplinary processes.” Freedom of press is the one thing which will always keep government grounded as news as it happens needs to get across to people. With social media ruling the roost, it is becoming difficult for those in power to hold back information. The violence as it is happening, stems from this frustration that the power of the common man is becoming supreme.