The Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) and Hong Kong Press Photographers Association (HKPPA) met the Commissioner of Police and management of the Police today.
The unions welcomed the personal apology by the Commissioner of Police Chris Tang Ping-keung, for his officers’ misconduct against reporters on Shantung Street in Mong Kok on May 10. “If reporters felt humiliated by the treatment of police officers, I apologize on their behalf.” Tang said.
We are, however, disappointed with Tang’s refusal to promise to stop using pepper spray and batons against journalists performing duties.
On 10 May, a large number of journalists were pepper-sprayed, forced to squad, stopped from filming, ordered to read aloud their personal data and requested to make confession in front of police cameras. Police also refused to provide immediate medical assistance to injured journalists.
HKJA and HKPPA are also disappointed with the police’s refusal to promise not to repeat these acts in future. We urge the police to deal with the issue and we demand an explanation as soon as possible.
In the meeting, Tang said the Force was not asking for the issuance of official press accreditation; though there would be “benefits” if police could identify reporters in public order events.
HKJA and HKPPA have made it clear that we would not support any form of official press accreditations which aims at regulating news activities in public places. Neither would we tolerate any decision and intervention by government agencies to interfere with press freedom and their right to conduct interviews.
There were also discussions on the duties of the police in facilitating and the need to improve the liaison mechanism between the two parties.
The Police management confirmed that officers must abide by laws and regulations, and are responsible for their acts. In addition, they also confirmed that every Hong Kong citizen has the right to interview in public places, provided that the personal safety of police officers is not affected. Police also mentioned they would increase the staff size of Force Media Liaison Cadre to 300. We will continue to monitor how the relevant arrangements protect frontline reporters.
Hong Kong Journalists Association
Hong Kong Press Photographers Association
21 May 2020