Hong Kong police must stop use of abusive force towards journalists

As protests broke out on the streets of Hong Kong over the weekend, journalists were again the targets of police brutality. One journalist was arrested for simply protecting an injured journalist. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) have reiterated calls on Hong Kong authorities to protect the media, and condemned the police violence towards the media as they cover the protests.

A protester prepares to throw bricks at the police using an improvised slingshot in the Admiralty area during a general strike in Hong Kong on August 5, 2019, as simultaneous rallies were held across seven districts. Hong Kong's pro-democracy protesters are close to creating a "very dangerous situation", the city's leader warned on August 5 as train travel and international flights in the global financial hub were thrown into chaos. Credit: Anthony Wallace/AFP

On August 5, a general strike took place in Hong Kong and the streets filed with protesters. According to the HKJA police started clearing the Shum Shui Po area that evening, during which tear gas was aimed at the ground near the crowd. A student journalism was hit was the canister, causing severe bleeding from the head and they fainted. A second journalist was immediately arrested as they tried to protect the journalist. The arrested journalist was released without charge.

In the statement, HKJA also pointed out that the press has in recent days been repeatedly obstructed from reporting and attacked. “Not only has the situation not improved in spite of incessant condemnations by the industry, police have continued to obstruct reporting by aiming high beam lights at cameras and repeatedly singling out working on-site journalists who have made their identities clear –– violently obstructing their work, intentionally chase-beating them and aiming tear gas cannisters directly at them. The situation is growing increasingly out of control.”

The IFJ is very concerned about this issue, and worried that Hong Kong might become a police state when the power of police is growing bigger and uncontrolled, “we are worried that the rights and safety of journalists, as well as citizens, cannot be properly protected”.  The IFJ would demand immediate intervention by the Chief Executive by setting up an independent commission of inquiry and pressing the police to make urgent improvement.  “It is the duty of the Chief Executive of Hong Kong to protect the rights of people within its territory. We can see rights of people being infringed, but the government seems doing nothing.  We demand the government to take prompt action”. 

The IFJ had issued a letter to Carrie Lam, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong to express their concerns on the violation of press freedom in Hong Kong, but the government is yet to reply.

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on [email protected]

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

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