HKJA expressed extreme disappointment with a District Court judge’s remarks that reporters who stay at a protest scene may constitute part of a ‘riot’

According to media reports, a District Court judge today (11/1) heard an unlawful assembly case during which he watched a video clip and said that people wearing yellow high-visibility jackets – who were reporters – allegedly blocked some of the victims from leaving the scene, and that they may have been part of what he called a “riot”. The judge also pointed out that bystanders used cameras to take pictures and videos but did nothing to the assault. HKJA feels strange and disturbed by these remarks. Reporters need to wear high-visibility jackets in for work, but color of the clothes does not represent their position. Reporters risk staying at the protest site to do interview, the purpose is only to make the truth public, not to participate in any illegal activities. HKJA is extremely disappointed that the remarks of the judge may cause public misunderstanding.

In the past year or so, journalists interviewed at the scene of protest with tear gas and rubber bullets flying through. From time to time, they were unreasonably obstructed by the police or even confronted with force. They were still fearless and persistent, keeping a positive attitude. Reporters should not be unreasonably questioned or even accused of slandering. The judge made inaccurate comments without knowing the work of journalism. HKJA is worried that the judge’s comments could be used to justify unwarranted criticisms of journalists.

HKJA urges people in all walks of life to respect freedom of the press, stop making baseless allegations, and stop hurting journalists!

Hong Kong Journalists Association

11 January 2021

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