On July 29, the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) launched its annual press freedom report, an overall assessment of the state of freedom of the press and speech in Hong Kong. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the HKJA have called on the Hong Kong Government to take immediate action to enact Freedom of Information legislation, and demand Chinese Authorities respect and protect journalists working on the mainland.
The 2018 edition of the report, Candle in the wind-National Security law looms over diminishing freedoms highlights the increasing challenges to press freedom and free speech in Hong Kong, through five chapters.
Tse Chung-yan looks at how the Chinese-funded media have extended the influence of their newly founded digital media to the territory. Veteran journalist Ching Cheong looks at the declining press freedom and the associated causes in mainland China. Ching also looks at how Hong Kong media was manipulated by the mainland authorities through the criticism and condemning of Benny Tai’s ‘pro-independence view’.
Allan Au, Cathy Chu and To Yiu-ming co-authored a chapter highlighting the output of mainstream media and public broadcasting over the past year, highlighting self-censorship and the difficult situation ahead. Ken Lui covered the developments of the situation of journalists covering the China beat, revealing the plight of mainstream media and those covering sensitive news in the mainland and Macau, with the latter often being threatened, assaulted and blocked. In addition to that, Shirley Yam, vice-chairperson of HKJA, revealed that no progress had been made on the introduction of the Freedom of Information law, despite several years of advocacy from HKJA and the IFJ. The report said that the delay to the law caused “journalists being obstructed and not allowed to search for the truth”.
Chris Yeung, chairperson of HKJA, said: “Hong Kong people increasingly feel the “China factor”, shrinking the room for free speech and free press” and “a knife hanging over the heads of Hong Kong people”.
HKJA said that the Hong Kong Government should withholding enacting the Basic Law Article 23 as there is no consensus in society, speed up the enactment of the FOI law and oppose the enactment of the National Anthem law if it contradicts Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. HKJA also urged the government to raise the issues of local journalist’s protection and safety in mainland China.
The IFJ said: “We congratulate HKJA on its annual report, documenting and illustrating the press freedom situation in Hong Kong. The report illustrates the challenging environment that the Hong Kong media continues to work within. We stand in solidarity with HKJA and our Hong Kong colleagues as they continue to fight for press freedom and better conditions.”
We join the Hong Kong Journalists Association in calling on Carrie Lam, the chief executive of Hong Kong, to uphold press freedom which enshrined in Article 27 of Chapter 3 in Basic Law of Hong Kong.
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