Court injunction halts media reporting on Hong Kong University

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) and the other independent media unions in strongly criticizing the injunction placed upon local media reporting on a public interest case. The IFJ joins HKJA is demanding an explanation from Hong Kong University for filing the injunction.             On 30 October, Hong Kong University (HKU) filed a temporary injunction order to the High Court of Hong Kong to forbid all media and “persons unknown” to publish or report confidential information about the HKU Council’s meetings. In the released information, the temporary injunction order also barred any media and persons to identify any HKU members including Council members, staff and students.The injunction was immediately criticized by local media organisations and journalist unions. The Hong Kong Journalists Association, Hong Kong Press Photographers Association, Ming Pao Staff Association, Next Media Trade Union and Radio Television of Hong Kong Programme Staff Union have issued a joint statement to question the action, stating that they believe it sets up a daunting precedent for further press freedom restrictions in the future. The joint statement said; “Seeking an unprecedented wide coverage, the injunction will not only restrict journalistic works on the council events of HKU but also set a daunting precedent on the protection of press freedom which is enshrined in the Basic Law.” Shan Yee-Lan, chairperson of HKJA, said “Seven media unions and associations will protest at HKU today. In addition to that they will launch a signature campaigns among media industry. We urge HKU to withdraw its application.” A HKU spokesperson said that the university will continue to be a place where freedom of expression, opinion and thought are respected, valued and promoted. They also said “the legal action has been brought to protect those freedoms.” The IFJ Asia Pacific Office said “The injunction filed by Hong Kong University impedes on the core values of press freedom in Hong Kong which is enshrined in Article 27 of Basic Law. The media should act as a watchdog and has the ultimate responsibility to report all cases of public concerns. The Hong Kong University Council’s issue has already become a case of public concern, raising questions about political interference in freedom of expression and academia.” We urge all media personnel to remain firm and continued to defend press freedom and freedom of expression. We also urge the Judge of Hong Kong High Court to uphold Article 27 of Basic Law to defend the people’s basic right during the pending hearing on November 6.  

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946 

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