Hamilton police should drop charges against journalist: CAJ

OTTAWA, May 18, 2017 /CNW/ - The Canadian Association of Journalists joins those who are outraged at the arrest of two journalists by the Hamilton Police Service on May 16.

Jeremy Cohn and David Ritchie were taken into custody after they appeared at the scene of a collision that killed a 10-year-old girl in the city's west end. Ritchie was later reportedly charged with obstructing a peace officer and resisting arrest.

Hamilton police have not yet provided any detailed explanation as to why officers at the scene felt it necessary to detain the two journalists. Based on information from witnesses and other journalists at the scene, neither Cohn or Ritchie were in the way of officers' work or disrespecting any police tape or other barriers erected to establish a perimeter.

"Covering breaking news—including tragic events such as this one that tore a young daughter out of a family's life forever—is part of the work journalists are compelled to do," said CAJ president Nick Taylor-Vaisey. "This includes, in these moments, interacting with police and other first responders.

"Usually, journalists and first responders understand and respect that each of them has a role to play, and these roles can be complementary when everyone behaves in a responsible manner. Arresting someone because you wish to restrict their work, or because you believe your policing duties extend to questions of morality, is an abuse of that relationship and of all Canadians' Charter rights to freedom of expression and freedom of the press.

"The CAJ calls on the police service and the Crown to present a fulsome account of why these actions were necessary and drop the charges against Ritchie."

The CAJ is Canada's largest national professional organization for journalists from all media, representing more than 500 members across the country. The CAJ's primary roles are to provide public-interest advocacy and high-quality professional development for its members.

SOURCE Canadian Association of Journalists

For further information: Nick Taylor-Vaisey, CAJ President, Phone: 647.968.2393, Email: nick@caj.ca

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