The International Federation of Journalists, representing more than 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries, has called on its affiliates in the Asia-Pacific region to join forces to protest the Hong Kong Government's plans to enact Article 23, involving strident new national security measures, due to be enacted on 9 July 2003.
The IFJ condemns Article 23 on the basis that it proposes blatant oppression of basic civil liberties.
The IFJ and Asia affiliates are today protesting to the Hong Kong Government and are expressing concerns over the threat to freedom of the press and freedom of expression, which will be the consequence of the new legislation.
"The IFJ believes that Article 23 includes vague definitions of treason, sedition, subversion and the theft of state secrets that would be open to abuse," said IFJ President, Christopher Warren, in a letter today to Mr Tung, the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Government.
The IFJ is deeply concerned that Article 23 of Hong Kong's Basic Law will jeopardise basic civil liberties. The IFJ believes the article will have far reaching consequences impacting on and restraining all citizens that collect and disseminate ideas and information, particularly journalists.
"The indirect consequences of the article will be more extensive than the article itself. The existence of such laws are bound to have an intimidating effect, causing people to censor themselves, which will lead to the chilling of public debate," said Warren today.
The IFJ supports its affiliate, the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA), in its hope to redraft the article to include the Johannesburg Principles as an integral part of the legislation. These principles claim that information and expression are only deemed a threat to national security when they incite violence or are obviously connected with the occurrence of violence.
The IFJ has also protested the lack of clarity in the information given to the citizens of Hong Kong about the Article.
"What we hope to achieve in this region-wide protest is an extension to the 9 July Legislative Council meeting to vote the Article into law, to allow for the redrafting of the principles that govern the legislation and clearer information given to the public for debate," said Mr Warren today.
For further information, contact Christopher Warren at the International Federation of Journalists, tel + 61 411 757 668 or +61 2 9333 0999.
The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries.