SEJ Calls for Investigation Into Journalists' Arrests and Ongoing RCMP Violations of Journalists' Right to Report

December 3, 2021 — The Society of Environmental Journalists sent a letter today to Canada's Minister of Public Safety Marco Mendicino calling for an investigation into the illegal arrests of journalists Amber Bracken and Michael Toledano, and to take decisive action to end the Royal Canadian Mounted Police's (RCMP) repeated violations of journalists' right to report.

The letter says, in part:
"Bracken, a photojournalist on assignment with The Narwhal, and Toledano, an independent documentary film-maker, were detained by the RCMP on Nov. 19 during police enforcement of an injunction barring interference with construction of a Coastal GasLink pipeline in Wet’suwet’en territory in British Columbia.

"The two journalists were present to document Indigenous-led opposition to the project, one of several land disputes rooted in Canada’s ongoing legacy of oppression of its Indigenous peoples. It is an important story about which the public needs to know more.

"Instead, according to a news report, Bracken and Toledano were taken into custody along with the protestors and their images and cameras seized even though they identified themselves as journalists. They were jailed for three days before being released and their property returned, but they still face a hearing on contempt of court charges.

"An RCMP statement said the two were arrested because they were 'embedded' with the protestors. But the CAJ points out that has never been illegal in Canada, as courts have upheld journalists’ right to report in areas under similar injunctions."

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