Hong Kong’s security bureau proposed on July 17 to prohibit the operations of the Hong Kong Nationalist Party, using evidence from several media reports. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Hong Kong Journalists’ Association (HKJA) have demanded a clarification from the bureau on the use of the media reports.
Andy Lee, the security secretary for the security bureau announced on July 17, that they were proposing to prohibit the operations of the Party, a pro-independence group, due to the group’s operations endangering national security. The proposition is based on several media interviews that the Party’s convenor Chan Ho-Tin made, as well as reports about remarks he made in radio programs and at several academic seminars. Based on the Societies Ordinance, the bureau has enough evidence to ban the Party.
On July 21, the HKJA issued a statement expressing concerns over the use of media reports by the bureau as evidence, noting that “the move will adversely affect press freedom”. The HKJA statement said: “We are worried that media organisations will be deemed as assisting moves to endanger national security, if remarks in relevant reports are deemed as endangering national security.”
The HKJA also expressed concerns about whether media organisations will be deemed to be participating in ‘unlawful acts’ if they report on organisations and their representatives once they have been banned or declared as illegal societies, and if they will be liable to criminal charges for reporting on those activities.
The IFJ said: “We stand with HKJA in their concerns regarding the use of media reports by authorities. It is unclear the implications that the media in Hong Kong could face, and these need to be clarified immediately.”
We join the HKJA in calling on the Security Bureau to respond to the concerns of the media, and maintain press freedom in Hong Kong.
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