IFJ urges Hong Kong Government to defend press freedom

Media Release: Hong Kong                                         

July 9, 2013


The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) in condemning the refusal of the Hong Kong Government to categorically support press freedom.


In Dark Clouds on the Horizon, the HKJA’sannual report on the state of Hong Kong’s media, the HKJA found there had been a deterioration in press freedom in Hong Kong during 2012. The report found that Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Leung Chun Ying, increasingly avoids answering media questions at press conferences, preferring instead to issue unilateral statements posted on the internet.


In a disturbing development, Leung’s lawyer issued a warning to commentator Joseph Lian after Lian wrote anarticle critical of Leung. The HKJA believes Leung’sunwillingness to answer journalists’ legitimate questions and face proper media scrutiny coupled with his sensitivity to press criticism is undermining press freedom in Hong Kong and displays an alarming degree of intolerance of legitimate criticism.


Also in the HKJA report, there has been a sharp rise in attacks on journalists in the 12 months to July 2013, with 11 incidents in Hong Kong and seven in Mainland China. HKJA chairperson Sham Yee Lan says HKJA members are concerned the violence against journalists will escalate. The HKJA has requested a meeting with the representative of the Chinese Liaison Office in Hong Kong to discuss media safety but, as yet, there has been no response.


The IFJ Asia-Pacific office, says: “Violence against the media is used to silence democratic voices in a society. The Hong Kong Government and Chinese Liaison Office must act swiftly and responsibly to ensure press freedom and the safety for journalists as they go about their duties. The authorities must condemn these acts of violence and demonstrate they support press freedom, which is one of the fundamental rights of people enshrined in the Hong Kong Basic Law and Chinese Constitution.”


The IFJ added that the unwillingness of the government to engage with and respond to the media is a worrying trend. “It would be a great blow to press freedom if the Hong Kong Government continues to adopt the practices of the Mainland government by using the internet to issue unilateral statements rather than respond to legitimate media questions directly.”


Further, the IFJ joins HKJA in urging Leung Chun Ying to uphold his promise and enact the freedom of information laws as a key step towards open, transparent and responsible government.  



For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0950 

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

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