CJFE protests RCMP use of pepper spray against photographers

Tuesday, June 6, 2000

The Right Honourable Jean Chrótien
Prime Minister of Canada
Room 309-S Centre Block
Parliament Hill
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0A2
Fax: 613 941 6900

Dear Prime Minister,

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) is very concerned over the use of pepper spray on eight accredited photographers by Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) on 4 June 2000 while covering a protest against the Organization of American States (OAS) in Windsor, Ontario. CJFE is an independent organization which promotes freedom of expression worldwide according to the precepts of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The journalists indicated that police used pepper-spray on the crowd without warning and, in some cases, from behind shields so that one could not see where the spray was coming from. Some journalists, although wearing credentials, were sprayed directly by police.

The personal accounts of these journalists indicate an infringement of free expression by the police in Windsor. CJFE condemns the excessive use of force by police against journalists. I hope that the Government of Canada will take measures to ensure that journalists are able to fulfill their important role without being subjected to police interference. We vigorously defend the right of journalists to inform the public, and also the right of citizens to free expression.

Sincerely,

Sharmini Peries
CJFE Executive Director

cc. The Honourable Marina Minna, Minister for International Cooperation
cc. The Honourable Anne McLellan, Attorney General of Canada

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