Hong Kong: Media associations appeal for police to not obstruct reporters

Less than a week after Hong Kong’s commissioner of police promised to respect the right of journalists to report, police have continued to deliberately intimidate and obstruct journalists. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Hong Kong Journalists Association urge the commissioner to order police officers to allow journalists to carry out their work without harm or obstruction.

Hong Kong riot police issue a warning as they plan to clear people gathered in the Central district of downtown Hong Kong on May 27, 2020. Credit: ANTHONY WALLACE / AFP

On May 21, HKJA and two other media associations met with the commissioner of police, Tang Ping-keung after the Independent Police Complaints Council published the report into police conduct during the protests that began in June 2019. In the meeting, Tang said “(We will) make the best effort to ensure the reporting work of reporters. You (journalists) have the freedom and right to do reporting if that does not affect or obstruct the Police.”

Despite the commissioner’s promise, HKJA received reports on May 27 of police firing pepper spray, conducting lengthy press card checks on journalists who were not members of HKJA and stop and searches on journalists without reason in the Central district. In a number of cases, journalists were asked to read out their name and identity card number in front of a camera. Additionally, riot police ordered reporters to stop their live broadcasts. One reporter was hit and injured by police firing pepper balls to disperse the crowds.

HKJA said: Reporting staff in media organisations do not necessarily have to be a member of the HKJA for them to be considered as reporters. Mr Tang said at the meeting last Thursday he agreed journalists and civilians have the right to take video in public places.”

The IFJ said: “Police have a duty to respect the right of reporters to carry out their work and protect the public. The IFJ urges Tang Ping-keung to ensure police officers allow journalists to work without obstruction and not let this be an empty promise to media associations.

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

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

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