CAJ to New Brunswick RCMP - Recognize freedom of the press

OTTAWA, Dec. 2, 2013 /CNW/ - The Canadian Association of Journalists is calling on the RCMP to either lay charges or stop harassing a journalist working in New Brunswick arrested for the third time on Nov. 28.

According to the Halifax Media Co-op and journalist Miles Howe himself, the RCMP arrested Howe in Elsipogtog, N.B. on Thursday for the third time since July. During this arrest, police seized Howe's cellphone and camera and to-date have not returned it, claiming it forms part of an ongoing investigation. This is the third time Howe has been arrested while covering ongoing protests against fracking in the area. Each time he has been released, without facing any charges.

"It's inexcusable police would detain any journalist for doing their jobs, especially the same journalist for the third time in months," CAJ president Hugo Rodrigues said. "RCMP behaviour suggests they are unfamiliar with the Charter rights of a free press and the allowances those rights permit journalists while covering controversial and volatile situations.

"If RCMP officers truly believe Miles Howe has broken the law, charges should be laid as quickly as possible so Howe can defend himself. If they truly require his camera and phone as part of an investigation, they should obtain a warrant. To continue to arrest Howe, seize his equipment and then release him without charges is a pattern of behaviour suggesting police officers are harassing a member of the media."

Journalists work to bring important information to their audiences— when they're arrested the impact on their audiences is immediate and such action strikes at the very foundations of our constitutional right to freedom of expression and freedom of the press. The CAJ spoke with Howe and the Media Co-Op on Nov. 28, providing advice and referral to legal counsel with experience in media law.

The CAJ is Canada's largest national professional organization for journalists from all media, representing over 600 members across the country. The CAJ's primary roles are to provide high-quality professional development for its members and public-interest advocacy.

SOURCE Canadian Association of Journalists

For further information:

Hugo Rodrigues, CAJ president - 519-756-2020 ext. 2226, 519-535-8680 cell, hugo@caj.ca

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