image on Flickr.
On Sunday 27 July the photographer Simon Griffee was unlawfully arrested and coerced by Italian police when taking photographs of a police officer’s brutal treatment of a migrant vendor by the Colosseum.
You can read his story here.
In short, they arrested, searched and threatened him for no valid reasons and confiscated his Fujifilm X100S camera serial number 32M10667 with 8GB memory card and Fujifilm MP-95 battery despite it not being a crime in Italy to take photographs.
Simon writes that he is tired of seeing violent behaviour by the police against migrant street vendors. Yesterday he was being punished for exercising his freedom of expression when documenting a police officers’ excessive use of force against a street vendor.
Simon asks any witnesses who were present at the location to contact him.
Photographing in a public place, even photographing police officers in a public place, is not a crime in Italy, and does not justify a search, arrest or confiscation of private property. In this regard, Italian law is in line with Articles 8 and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. It is worrying that some police officers disregard or are ignorant of this fact.
For more info about the legality of photography in Italy, see Andrea Monti’s article ”Italy, Street-Photography and the Law.”
Simon’s story also points to the troubling issue of how we treat our paperless migrants in the European Union. While in custody at the Immigration Office at the Police HQ in Tor Cervara, Simon “witnessed several people of African and Indian origin in confinement in another large cell. Many of them seemed passed out on the floor.” Simon wonders who speaks for these less fortunate people.
You can learn more about the situation of undocumented migrants and refugees in Europe at the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants.