Hong Kong: Police brutality against journalists’ hits a new low

A survey conducted by the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) into police violence against journalists has revealed the violent reality of working journalists in Hong Kong, signifying a sharp decline in press freedom. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the HKJA call on police to discuss countermeasures to curb police violence.

Riot police hold back media workers during a demonstration in Hong Kong on May 10, 2020. Credit: ISAAC LAWRENCE / AFP

Earlier this year, HKJA published their annual findings into press freedom in Hong Kong and journalists’ safety highlighting the sharpest decline in press freedom since the survey’s launch in 2013. In light of the public concern over the violent treatment of journalists covering public order events, HKJA conducted a “Survey on the violence against journalists when covering public order events”. Of the 222 journalists who responded to the survey on police violence, only 28 said they had not been treated violently while covering the public order events that began in June 2019. Another 141 journalists reported police violence while reporting, including physical and verbal abuse and the deliberate obstruction of journalists’ reporting.

It has been more than a year since the demonstrations against the Hong Kong Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill escalated from June 9, 2019, however HKJA’s calls for the government to start a reporter protection fund to allow journalists to have access to protective equipment and counselling in response to police violence against journalists have gone unanswered. On June 8, HKJA reiterated in a letter to the Superintended of Police the urgency of the matter, requesting a meeting with the chairman of the Supervisory and Police Commission, Liang Dingbang to discuss reducing police violence against journalists.

HKJA said: “The news industry has survived the spring, summer, autumn and winter of the sky and smoke, and once again ushered in the iconic day of the June 9 anti-amendment incident. Years and months will not heal the reporter's physical and mental scars.”

The IFJ said: “The ongoing police brutality in Hong Kong has become a catalyst to a dangerous decline in freedom of expression. The IFJ urges authorities to consult the journalist union and begin discussions on how police can minimise attacks on journalists and subsequent assaults on press freedom.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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