Hong Kong: Government fails to ensure the safety of journalists and uphold rights

Journalists in Hong Kong face increasing dangers while covering protests. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) are deeply disappointed in the failure to protect press freedom and would again urge the government to publicly ensure the rights and safety of journalists in Hong Kong.

A group of protesters leave the Hong Kong Polytechnic University before surrendering to police in the Hung Hom district in Hong Kong on November 22, 2019. Credit: DALE DE LA REY / AFP

The police continue to the intentionally attack and harass journalists, despite the Hong Kong government affirming the need to ensure journalist’s safety during a meeting with local journalists groups last week. According to a Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) statement, a riot police officer allegedly fired a sponge grenade, a protest control weapon, at a Commercial Radio reporter during a police clearance operation last Saturday in Mongkok.  The reporter was allegedly hit in the back by the sponge grenade as he tried to flee arrest after filming police pushing other journalists covering the protests..

In another incident on Sunday the police encircled the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), when a reporter from Mad Dog Daily was hit on the head by a blast from the police water cannon and suffered internal head . He was sent to hospital where he was diagnosed with fracture to the back of his skull.

A director for a TV show produced by Taiwan's Public Television Service was also arrested at PolyU. No reason has yet been given for his arrest.

According to HKJA, journalists have also been injured by roadblocks, petrol bombs, and injured by stones thrown by protesters.

HKJA said: “We remind front-line reporters that they have the right to refuse to participate in the interview when there is reason to believe that the interview is at risk to their personal safety, and the employer does not provide sufficient protective equipment or fail to take the associated risks. At the same time, we ask the management of media organizations to refrain from disciplinary action against those who refuse the interview.”

The IFJ said: “The continued violence and deteriorating environment for journalists, especially the continued intentional harassments and attacks on journalists by the police is concerning. The Hong Kong government affirmed the rights and safety of journalists in their meeting with journalists’ unions last week.  As the situation escalates, journalists have to pay more attention to protect their own safety. It is unacceptable that police continue to intentionally threaten journalists. The IFJ continues to urge the Hong Kong government to take the protection of journalists and press freedom seriously.”

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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