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Two foreign reporters arrested in Namibia for filming seal slaughter

Seals are hunted ruthlessly. This photo is of the annual seal hunt in Canada.

Two foreign reporters were arrested Thursday by Namibian police for filming the annual clubbing to death of small seal pups for their fur along the coast, Agence France-Presse (AFP) has reported. British investigative journalist Jim Wilckens and South African cameraman Bart Smithers were arrested by police whilst documenting the controversial Namibian seal cull.

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"The two have been arrested today (Thursday)," police spokesman Angula Amulungu told AFP, alleging that they had contravened the Fisheries and Marine Resources Act. They were being held in police holding cells at Henties Bay some 400 km (250 miles) west of the capital Windhoek. They would appear in court on Friday, he added.

Wilckens, a reporter with the British-based Eco-Storm agency, and Smithers were working with the Dutch non-governmental organisation Bont Voor Dieren.

Andrew Wasley, co-director of Ecostorm, alleged that the two had been beaten up by workers involved in the cull. "We are working with the British High Commission in Namibia to establish the full picture and secure the release of our team," Wasley said in a statement. "Clearly this was a violent and unwarranted attack on two journalists doing their job -- their cameras and video footage were also seized, which should be returned."

The annual commercial seal harvesting season officially opened on July 1 with a quota of 85,000 pups due to be clubbed to death on the Namibian coast. Namibia has said it plans to kill 91,000 seals this year for fur pelts and to protect fish populations, the same number as last year, undeterred by a European Union ban on importing seal products.

Date posted: July 17, 2009 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 492