The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) strongly criticizes the actions of hotel staff at the MGM in <st1:place w:st="on">Macau</st1:place> who restricted journalists from their duties. The IFJ remind the Government of Macau that such actions are a violation of press freedom.
On March 15, a journalist with the daily Cheng Pao newspaper was restrained by MGM security when he attempted to leave the casino following an official event. The journalist was at the MGM, an international casino resort covering an official ceremony with the Fernando Chui Sai-On, the Chief Executive of Macau. According to a statement by the Macau Journalists Association (MJA), the journalist followed the orders of the MGM, displaying his press card and remaining within the press zone. However when the ceremony ended, he left the press zone and followed Fernando Chui, and the other senior government officials. The journalist was trying to interview the guests however as the government officials went to leave the hotel the journalist was blocked by security agents who proceeded to restrain him. A public relations officer yelled out to security “shut the door. Do not allow journalists to leave.”
MJA said: “We are shocked. The maneuver of the security agents and public relations officers is barbaric and unacceptable.”
The journalist told the IFJ that: “There is no reason for the security agents to restrain the press movements following the ceremony.”
Following the incident, MGM issued an apology and said that security agents are employed to maintain order within the complex. The journalist involved contested the statement saying that ‘order’ was not disturbed and he was following the directions of security after the end of the ceremony.
The IFJ Asia Pacific office said: “Blocking, restraining and the use of violence towards journalists is taking place in Macau at an increasing rate. Strong action needs to be taken to end the use of intimidation tactics to silence journalists. Following the incident last year at Macau University, where a journalist was restricted from covering student protests, it is evident that no changes have been made.”
The IFJ urges the Government of Macau to educate the people about the core values and principles of press freedom.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946
The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries
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