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Journalists attacked, injured, threatened by protestors

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is an IFJ media release:

EFJ Says Malta Must Stop Attacks on Media after Journalists Assaulted at Hunting Protest

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its European group, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) today called on the Maltese government to protect journalists after recent attacks on journalists covering a protest by hunters and trappers in the capital.

The EFJ and IFJ are backing a call by their affiliate, the Institute of Maltese Journalists (IGM), for authorities to take tough action against those responsible for the attacks on journalists reporting on the 7 March protest in the capital city of Valletta, where hunters and trappers hurled bottles and stones at police and media.

"These recent attacks on journalists show that protesters feel they can attack reporters and photographers with impunity," said Arne König, EFJ Chair. "This intimidation and violence against journalists on assignment is a serious threat to independent media in Malta."

Darrin Zammit Lupi, a photographer from The Times newspaper, was hospitalised after he was struck in the face and his equipment was damaged, IGM said. Julia Farrugia, a journalist from Illum newspaper and Brandon Pisani, a journalist from l-orizzont newspaper were taken to a nearby health centre suffering from slight injuries. Photographer Ben Borg Cardona of newspaper The Malta Independent had his equipment broken and stolen by hunters and was slightly injured.

Photographer Ray Attard from Illum newspaper was also slightly injured. Farrugia and Borg-Cardona were threatened by representatives of the Federation for Hunting, Trapping and Conservation, which organised the protest.

These are the latest cases of attacks on journalists in Malta, where journalists have been threatened or assaulted while on assignment cover public gatherings or judicial proceedings, the IGM said. Last year, an editor and a columnist had their front doors set on fire while the country was having a public debate about asylum seekers in Malta. At the time, far-right political figures were inciting attacks against the media, who were generally sympathetic about the plight of asylum seekers.

The EFJ represents over 260.000 journalists in more than 40 countries.

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