Colombian police apologize for attack on photographer

A member of the Colombian National Police attacked a photographer on Tuesday, Oct. 23, reported the newspaper Vanguardia Liberal. Ana María García, photographer for the newspaper El Tiempo, was covering a serious accident on the mass-transit system of Bogotá, the capital, when the officer attacked her, according to the newspaper.

According to the reporter, she was with other journalists when a police officer asked her to leave. Then, he grabbed her arm to pull her out of the area, reported the website Terra. "I told him not to touch me, that I would leave on my own, but he continued pushing me. I kept telling him to not touch me but he shoved me, got me in an armlock, threw me to the floor and got on top of me," García said, according to the website.

The commander of the Bogotá Police, General Luis Eduardo Martínez, asked the journalist and the newspaper to forgive what he considered a repudiable and unjustifiable act, according to the newspaper El Colombiano. "This is not how our institution behaves. We are the ones that need to defend your constitutional right as journalists to report," said General Martínez, who ordered an investigation into the event, added El Colombiano.

In a statement, the Colombian Federation of Journalists (FECOLPER in Spanish) condemned the assault. FECOLPER noted that just days before, several Colombian press organizations met with representatives of the National Police to discuss constant attacks from law enforcement on reporters and achieve mutual respect between the two groups, the statement read.

The photographer received five days of disability leave for injuries to her hand from the attack, reported El Tiempo. García accepted the police apology but said that her situation should serve as a teaching moment for the role of authority, according to the newspaper.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.