Migrants: Louis Witter and Simon Hamy denounce an “obstacle” to the freedom to inform before the courts

“Until now, there were only two countries that had prevented me from working: the Hungary of Viktor Orban and the Morocco of Mohammed VI. Now there is France. ” Freelance photojournalist Louis Witter, 25, has been covering migration crises for six years. Monday January 4, before the administrative court of Lille, the reporter denounced, with his colleague Simon Hamy, the“Hindrance” to the freedom to inform which, according to them, represents the impossibility of accessing evacuations from migrant camps on the coasts of the North and Pas-de-Calais.

In a request for interim relief, both ask the court to order the prefectures to “Authorize access to the different sites” evacuation to carry out their reports. In particular: several episodes during which the two journalists say they were prevented from exercising their profession.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2020, early in the morning, the photojournalist and his freelance writer colleague followed the evacuation of a migrant camp in Grande-Synthe. After checking their identity documents and press cards, “Photographed by what appeared to be the personal phone of the police”, they tell the president of the court, the police forbid them to go beyond a security perimeter. “This ban on filming and photographing was made verbally and physically with the hand on the lens of the camera, in addition to the headlight of a police van pointed towards us”, specifies Louis Witter.

On five occasions, on December 29 and 30, they were thus refused access to the dismantled sites in Grande-Synthe, Calais and Coquelles. The National Union of Journalists (SNJ), the profession’s leading organization, “Condemned these practices of obstruction and intimidation”. The lawyer for the two journalists, Me Henry-François Cattoir, denounces a serious attack on the freedom to inform. “It would therefore be necessary, as implied [le ministre de l’intérieur, Gérald] Darmanin, an accreditation to follow police operations now? “, he pretends to wonder at the hearing.

“What’s in the way? “

On his Twitter account, the photojournalist Louis Witter had broadcast Tuesday, December 29 telephoto images of the tents of migrants slashed with stab wounds by a man charged according to him with ” cleaning “ of the migrant camp.

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