The National Anthem Bill was tabled to the Legislative Council of Hong Kong for a first and second reading on January 23, 2019. The HKJA is concerned that the proposed articles in the law do not contain any exemption clauses that would protect journalists from prosecution if they report the activities and events that may violate the law. Whether the media that reprint or replay the materials would bear legal responsibility is not clearly stated which could lead to media self-censorship to avoid potential prosecution
The HKJA have expressed its concerns that, “the implementation of the National Anthem Law would cause [a] chilling effect and thus damages freedom of expression.” In June last year the HJKA declared that there are not enough protections for the media in Hong Kong.
The IFJ said: “The tabling of the National Anthem Law shows that the government has failed to listen to the concerns voiced by key groups including HKJA. Engaging with stakeholders is vitally important to ensure that laws support rather than curb freedom of expression. The Hong Kong government, as stated in the Hong Kong Basic Law Article 39, and stated in International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Article 19, has an obligation to protect freedom of expression in Hong Kong. We call on the Hong Kong Government to ensure that freedom of the press is guaranteed, regardless of the new legislation.”