Journalist barred from covering protest in Hong Kong

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) criticizes the actions of the Hong Kong Police in barring a journalist from covering a protest in Hong Kong on February 8. Such acts violate and weaken press freedom in the city.

Richard Scotford, a reporter for Hong Kong entertainment magazine BC Magazine was at a shopping mall in Tuen Mun in Hong Kong on February 8 covering a protest against multi-entry permits for Mainland Chinese in Hong Kong. According to an online video, Scotford was standing at the top of an escalator when a police officer asked him to get down, however Scotford ignored the request, instead showing his press card. Police then accused Scotford of crossing the police cordon, which he claimed he did not. The police then shoved and stopped Scotford from gaining closer to the access, therefore making it impossible for him to cover the event. When he told them he was a journalist the police said they didn’t understand English.  

Scotford said: “Why is it that police now feel that they need to antagonize and confront people, yelling at them in their face? If you want someone to move ask them politely.”

The IFJ Asia-Pacific Office said: “We understand the duty of the police when monitoring protests and public demonstrations; however it is not in their power to overrule the rights of press freedom which are enshrined in the Basic Law of Hong Kong as well as the Constitution.”

“Police do not have the right to suppress a journalist to exercise his duty, particularly when that journalist has produced his press card. We call on the <st1:country-region w:st="on">Hong Kong</st1:country-region> authorities to ensure police and authorities are aware of the rights of journalists, particularly when covering protests and demonstrations.”

During the Occupy Movement in <st1:country-region w:st="on">Hong Kong</st1:country-region> last year, the IFJ recorded 39 attacks on journalists covering the events, a number of which were at the hands of police. The IFJ Press Freedom in China Report 2014 details a number of these attacks and the shifting repression placed on journalists in Hong Kong and China. 

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

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

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