Camera crews in the firing line as France’s ’yellow vests’ clash with police

By Jane Whyatt

As demonstrators in yellow vests have clashed with police across France a number of photojournalists have been attacked and injured as they tried to cover the protests. CPJ offers safety guidelines for journalists.

Camera crews in the firing line as France’s ’yellow vests’ clash with police (photo: Obier, Manif Gilets Jaunes Vesoul 17nov2018, CC BY-SA 4.0)

After violence erupted on Saturday 8. December, the European Federation of Journalists and its member organisations, the French journalists’ unions SNJ, SNJ-CGT and CFDT-Journalistes issued a statement. They demand an end to the violence and they encourage all journalists who have been affected to make an official complaint.

Journalists injured whilst doing their jobs

Quoting a report in Parisien-Aujourd’hui en France, the journalists’ associations describe how two of their photographers were hit by a flash ball on the Champs-Elysées, one in the neck and the other on the knee. The flash ball is a controversial police weapon which has injured photojournalists on other occasions, as described in ECPMF’s France Fact Finding Mission report, entitled “Dancing for the oligarchs

Another journalist, Boris Khalamoff, who was working for the A2PRL press agency, tweeted a photograph of his injury, also allegedly caused by a flash ball – even though he says he was wearing  his press credentials.

War reporter Veronique de Viguerie tweeted that the police forced her to remove her helmet in front of the Louvre art gallery in Paris, even though she showed her press card and wanted the protection of her headgear.


Elsewhere, at Le Puy en Velay in central France and at Bordeaux in the south west, reporters complain of being tear-gassed.

The journalists’ trade unions are demanding an urgent meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron. Anthony Bellenger, President of the International Federation of Journalists, says “It’s totally unacceptable, in a democratic country under the rule of law that the powers that be cannot guarantee the freedom to inform the public." Read the full press release here.

Other journalists and photographers who have been affected by violence or threats during the ’yellow vest’ protests are encouraged to make official complaints. Media freedom organisations are monitoring the situation. Journalists under threat can use the ECPMF Reporting Point or if they are already members of a trade union they can contact their union's local representative.

'Get protection' - CPJ

The Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) has issued safety guidelines for journalists and camera crews who are covering demonstrations by the ’yellow vests’ in France and Belgium. They include tips such as wearing protective headgear, gas masks and body armour, not wearing contact lenses and staying aware of the situation, to watch out for potential aggression by police or protestors.

You can find the full set of CPJ guidelines here.

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