Hong Kong: HKJA chair charged with obstructing police

Ronson Chan, the chair of the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA), was formally charged on September 19 for obstructing police, less than one week before he was scheduled to begin a fellowship at Oxford University in the United Kingdom. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) urges the Hong Kong authorities to immediately drop all charges against Chan.

Ronson Chan, chairman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA), talks to the media outside the Mongkok police station in Hong Kong on September 19, 2022. Credit: Peter Parks / AFP

Chan was arrested after an altercation with two police officers while covering a homeowner committee meeting at MacPherson Stadium in Mong Kok on September 7. According to the officers, Chan refused to provide identification and was ‘uncooperative’.

Chan was formally charged with ‘obstructing a police officer’ on September 19, an offence that can carry up to two years in jail. He is due to appear in court on Thursday,s September 22.

Shortly after he was charged, Chan told reporters that he acted within his rights by refusing to cooperate with the officers until they presented their warrant cards. Chan also said the officers threatened him while they travelled to the police station, with comments including “let’s see when you will die”.

The HKJA is one of the few remaining media rights organisations in Hong Kong, since the introduction of Hong Kong’s national security law in June 2020. Many news outlets, including Apple Daily, have been forced to close down or move offshore since the law’s implementation, and the once strong public service broadcaster Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) has been steadily transformed into a government mouthpiece.

In its report, Lights Out: Is this the End of Press Freedom in Hong Kong, the IFJ documented the use of orchestrated campaigns to shut down civil society organisations, including journalism advocacy and representative bodies.

On September 8, the IFJ’s Asia-Pacific regional affiliate unions and associations condemned Chan’s arrest and called on Hong Kong’s administration to allow all journalists to work without fear of arrest or reprisal.

The IFJ said: “As independent journalists are silenced and media outlets and associations are rapidly shuttered across Hong Kong, the nation’s administration must halt its persecution of press freedom and safeguard the rights of media workers. The IFJ strongly commends the arbitrary legal harassment and intimidation of Ronson Chan and calls for all charges against him to be immediately and unconditionally dropped.”

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

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

Twitter: @ifjasiapacific, on Facebook: IFJAsiaPacific and Instagram