World Press Freedom Canada is calling on the RCMP and the federal and provincial governments to ensure that the rights of journalists are respected as they cover protests and arrests in the Fairy Creek watershed.
In April, the B.C. Supreme Court granted an order allowing RCMP broad powers to enforce an injunction prohibiting the obstruction of logging by Teal-Jones, a Surrey-based forestry company.
Journalists have since complained that, under the injunction, the RCMP set up a checkpoint at a road leading to the protest site and have blocked reporters from accessing the site, preventing them from doing their jobs.
The Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) and several news outlets who have been attempting to cover the protests are now asking the B.C. court to limit the powers of the RCMP and other police agencies in enforcing injunctions.
The ability of media to cover protests and the police response is fundamental in a democratic society where the public has the right to know the facts of such conflict and how authorities are interacting with citizens as they carry out court orders.
Provincial and federal governments, which have ultimate authority over policing, must reinforce to the RCMP and indeed other police forces, that media’s legitimate access to protest sites must not be denied.