In a statement issued today (28 April), Next Magazine condemns police officers for arbitrary arrests and detention of the magazine’s reporters in public space. Next Magazine severely denounces the police’s abuse of public authority and intimidation against journalists during officers’ attempt to obstruct investigation and exposure of top police officers’ scandals. Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) and Hong Kong Press Photographers Association (HKPPA) express solemn concern over this incident. Arrests for lawful reporting and forced handing over of information collected during reporting constitute unreasonable interference of the press. HKJA and HKPPA strongly condemn the police’s violation of press freedom and demand a public account from the force as soon as possible.
According to the information provided by Next Magazine and Apple Daily, two Next Magazine journalists were reporting and filming information related to Rupert Dover, Assistant Commissioner of Police. When the concerned journalists were ready to leave after having finished reporting, officers arrested them for loitering in a public place, one of the journalists was hand-cuffed and escorted off to the Tseung Kwan O police station. The concerned journalists, with their press credentials clearly displayed, have identified to officers their press identity; however, officers made an arrest after having inquired about the reporting and went through the journalists’ notes and camera footage at the police station. Such facts contradict the police’s claim that “the reporters could not provide a reasonable excuse for their presence at the scene” in its press release.
HKJA and HKPPA demand the police force to publicly account for the arrest of loitering, even after the journalists have identified themselves and their purpose for reporting in a public space. HKJA and HKPPA would also like to stress that the police force has no right to inquire into the purpose and content of reporting and that the reporting of journalists should be free from any kind of interferences. The law enforcement is obliged to file a production order to the Court for the need to inquire into the notes or camera footage relates to the news. HKJA and HKPPA hereby urge the police force to stringently follow up and publicly account for the arbitrary arrests, as well as to return and apologise for the news materials obtained unlawfully.
Hong Kong Journalists Association
Hong Kong Press Photographers Association
28 April 2020