Journalists harassed covering city-wide protests in Hong Kong

As over a million people took to the streets of Hong Kong to protest the government’s controversial extradition bill on June 9, a number of journalists were blocked and barred from covering the protests. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) have condemned the actions of police in obstructing the media in covering the protests.

Over a million people took to the streets in Hong Kong to protest the proposed extradition bill tabled by the Hong Kong government. Credit: Philip Fong/AFP

According to HKJA in the early hours of June 10, police started moving protesters who remained outside the Legislative Council building. Several journalists were also in the area covering the protests, local police referred to the media as ‘rubbish’, pointing their flashlights at the cameras so they couldn’t film and pushed the journalists on the metal barriers. Several journalists were injured in the incident, and a photographer was hit by debris thrown by protesters at the police.

A few hours after the initially incidents, the police expelled the media from the area shouting at them ‘reporters have no privlege’. Police officers continued to harass and assault journalists covering the protests, despite them producing press cards.

HKJA strongly condemned the actions of the police. In a statement HKJA said: “The police's actions ignored the personal safety of journalists, seriously trampled on the right to interview, and [we] urged the police to investigate the incident and provide a reasonable explanation.”

The protests in Hong Kong were against the government’s proposed Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, which allows the transfer of “fugitives” from Hong Kong to Mainland China.  The proposed legislation has been widely criticised, including by the IFJ and HKJA. The proposed amendment, will put journalists and whistleblowers under threat when reporting on issues related to China, dealing a further blow to the already limited freedom of express that Hong Kong still enjoys.

The IFJ said: “We stand in solidarity with HKJA and our colleagues in Hong Kong in condemning the actions of the police to obstruct, harass and attack the media for simply doing their job. Journalists and media workers must, in all circumstances, be able to report without fear or intimidation, yet the actions of the Hong Kong police do not support this. Even more concerning is reports that the police told the media that they do not have any privilege. We demand an immediate investigation.”

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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