6 January 1998


CNN Reporters injured in struggle with police

Incident details

Amy Merz



(MISA/IFEX) - On 2 January, Amy Merz, a CNN cameraperson, was
assaulted by Zambian police as they tried to seize her camera.
Five hundred dollars worth of damage was caused to the camera
during the ensuing scuffle. The violence resulted from an attempt
to stop the filming of opposition United National Independence
Party (UNIP) leader Kenneth Kaunda, currently under house arrest,
before a scheduled court appearance in Lusaka. Merz, who injured
her wrist, told the privately owned "Post" that "I have worked in
Africa for 12 years and this is the roughest experience that I
have ever had. It is disappointing that it has taken place in
Zambia," she added.

Police assaulted her and her colleague Bob Coen on suspicion that
they had interviewed Kaunda who, following his restriction
orders, is barred from talking to the press. As police tried to
apprehend the journalists, onlookers helped them flee to the
nearby British High Commission for refuge. Merz reportedly
sustained her injury during the struggle with the police, who
were apparently determined to confiscate her camera. When
contacted by ZIMA on 5 January, Coen described the incident as
"unfair" and remarked that there was "heightened tension in the
country right now."

Zambia Independent Media Association (ZIMA) chairman David
Simpson condemned the attack against the CNN crew as "barbarism."
"ZIMA is disgusted with the barbarism exhibited by the police,
particularly the brutalization of CNN cameraperson Amy Merz...in
an effort by the police to seize her camera which was damaged in
the attack," he stated. Simpson added that "we would like to
state that the current state of emergency does not give the
police carte blanche powers to stifle freedom of expression and
freedom of the press."


Media Institute of Southern Africa
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