The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is concerned that Hong Kong’s police failed to properly release information regarding a number of attacks in Hong Kong’s Tseung Kwan O district and have breached the police department’s own commitments to transparency.
Four people were physically attacked in separate incidents in Tseung Kwan O over a twelve-hour period on October 2 and 3. However, police did not release official information to the media about the incidents until after reports of the attacks emerged in Hong Kong newspapers almost a week later, on October 9.
Delays in the release of police information have previously been identified by IFJ affiliate the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) as an issue of concern. In their 2009/2010 Annual Report, the HKJA identified a number of cases of police withholding information about criminal cases. Similarly, on February 13, Hong Kong police only confirmed the burglary of a watch store after a report of the crime had already been published in various Hong Kong newspapers. In this case police withheld all information regarding the crime for over a week without explanation.
In refusing to promptly release information of the attacks, the Hong Kong police have failed to honour their promise, made when their communication systems were upgraded from analogue to digital, to disclose information to the media as soon as possible.
Under Hong Kong’s Access to Information Code, the police department is one of the government agencies that have a positive duty of public disclosure. Under the Code, the department has an obligation to release information, unless it could cause public harm or prejudice criminal proceedings.
“The media has a duty to report cases in the public interest, and provide citizens with information regarding the safety of their community,” the IFJ Asia-Pacific said.
“It is important that police not only investigate crime, but also provide the media and public with a honest account of threats to their security.”
The IFJ urges Hong Kong Police Commissioner Andy Tsang Wai-Hung to ensure Hong Kong Police honour their commitment to immediate public disclosure and fully investigate the failure to disclose the Tseung Kwan O attacks.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries
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