Pultizer Photographer is Fined Under ‘Gag Law’ While Capturing Migrants

A photographer was fin

A Pulitzer prize-winning photographer has been fined $1,000 under Spain’s “gag law” when he attempted to take pictures of a refugee camp.

Javier Bauluz was documenting the arrival of thousands of migrants last year in the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago off the coast of northwestern Africa.

Bauluz was involved in a confrontation with police who warned the photographer he would be fined for “disrespecting an agent” and “refusing to identify himself,” despite Bauluz’s insistence that he showed his identification.

Footage of Bauluz, who was part of a team awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1995 for their work in Rwanda, shows the irate photographer refusing to allow police officers to frogmarch him from the scene. The officers accuse Bauluz of insulting them and threaten to fine him under the so-called gag law.

Despite the incident happening a year ago, Bauluz received the fine in the post this week. The award-winning photographer had spent months capturing the story of 20,000 or more people risking their lives to cross into Europe.

The migrants who made the crossing from mainland Africa were forced to live in squalid conditions and police regularly blocked Bauluz and other journalists from approaching the makeshift camp on a dock, reports the Guardian.

“They put us so far away that you couldn’t tell if they were men or women or if they were crying or smiling,” says Bauluz.

“The only thing you can do from that distance is take the kind of photos that feed into xenophobia, showing masses of unidentifiable people.”

What is Spain’s Gag Law?

Spain passed a public security law in 2015, dubbed the “gag law,” which allows authorities to fine journalists and media organizations for distributing unauthorized images of police.

It also sets strict limits on protests, laying out guidelines on when and where they can take place and penalizing offenders with steep fines. The law has been used to fine journalists, photographers, and even a woman who posted a photo of a police car parked illegally.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.