IFJ Open Letter to Macau Authorities

 

To: Mr Ho Hau-wah

The

Chief Executive of Macau

 

cc: Mr. Cheong Kuoc Va

Secretariat

for Security

 

Mr Chan

Chi-ping, Victor

Director

of Government Information Bureau

February 27, 2009

 

RE: Concerns about entry

requirements and Macau security laws

 

Dear Mr Ho

Hau-wah,

 

The

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), as the global organisation

representing more than 600,000 journalists around the world, wishes to draw

your attention to concerns about several matters relating to press freedom in Macau.

 

Firstly,

Felix Wong Chi-keung, a photographer with the South China Morning Post, has informed the IFJ that Macau security

officers barred him from entering Macau twice

in February, claiming he was in breach of the Internal Security Law of Macau.

 

On

February 18, Wong went to Macau to report on a

court case involving Ao Man-long. Wong carried an accredited press card. On

February 25, Wong was again refused entry to report on Ao’s case and the final

vote on the government-revised National Security Law, Article 23, Basic Laws of

Macau, which passed yesterday.

 

Wong has

had no problem visiting the mainland, despite being briefly detained by Beijing police around the

time of the Olympic Games. He was also permitted to enter Macau

on January 11.

 

According

to the Immigration Ordinance of Macau, Hong Kong people need only produce their

identity card when they enter Macau. Under Macau’s Internal Security Law, entry can be refused only

if a person is suspected of being a threat to internal security or involvement

in organized crime, cross-border crime, violent crime or terrorism.

 

The IFJ

believes there is no valid reason for Wong to be prevented from visiting Macau in order to conduct his work.

 

Indeed,

the Secretary for Economy and Finance of Macau, Francis Tam Pak-yuen, said in

Hong Kong on February 19 said that Macau welcomed people from outside Macau to visit for tourism or work. However, Tam was

unable to explain to the IFJ why Wong was refused entry.

 

We

understand that Hong Kong’s Chief Secretary, Henry Tang Ying-yen, contacted Macau authorities on February on 19 to express his

concerns about this matter. He is joined in his concerns by Hong Kong and Macau journalists’ associations and the IFJ.

 

Secondly,

the IFJ wishes to express its concerns about National Security Law, Article 23,

Basic Laws of Macau, which refers to state-security crimes including treason,

secession, sedition, the theft of state secrets and subversion against the

Government of China. The definition of some of these crimes is ambiguous and we

fear this law could be used to restrict freedom of expression. In addition, the

heavy penalties applying to these vaguely defined crimes may serve to inhibit

the activities of independent and critical journalists and free expression

advocates, or be applied against media personnel in an unjust manner.

 

The IFJ

respectfully urges the Authority of Macau to honour its promise to uphold press

freedom, and to make a public statement that it will not use Article 23 to

intimidate or prevent journalists from conducting their work in the public

interest. We also call on Macau authorities to direct immigration personnel not

to block the entry of journalists seeking to enter the territory of Macau

in order to conduct their profession.

 

Yours Sincerely

 

 

 

Jacqueline

Park

Director, IFJ Asia-Pacific

+612 9333 0919

jpark@alliance.org.au