Statement issued by the Hong Kong Journalists Association the Hong Kong national security law

  1. HKJA has earlier submitted our views to the Chinese National People’s Congress Standing Committee on the national security law for Hong Kong. We urged the Standing Committee to adopt a “minimalist approach” in legislating. It turned out to be the opposite. The law enacted is much harsher; its scope much broader. Worse, there was no prior consultation. We express our deep regret.
  2. We said in our submission the new law should avoid having adverse impacts on freedom of expression and freedom of the press. Article 4 and 5 of the new law stipulate that the SAR Government should respect and protect human rights, including rights to the freedoms of speech, the press, publication, association, assembly, demonstration and rallies. But the fact the Hong Kong national security law has overriding powers over other laws makes human rights protection under the Basic Law, the Bill of Rights Ordinance and laws that give effect to international human rights covenants meaningless.
  3. Wordings such as “whether or not by force or threat of force”, “A person who incites, aiding or abetting” and “A person who advocates terrorism or incites the commission of a terrorist activity” were found in Articles relating to “Secession”, “Subversion” and “Terrorist Activities”.We are concerned that Hong Kong people will be easily found guilty by words  and the press would be incriminated by reasons of “inciting, aiding and abetting”. We have suggested in our submission that news reporting relating to public interest should not be treated as violation to the National Security Law. Yet, our opinion was not adopted.
  4. Article 9 of the National Security Law states that the HKSAR Government shall take necessary measures to strengthen public communication, guidance, supervision and regulation over matters concerning national security, including those relating to schools, universities, social organisations, the media, and the internet. We are concerned that news media will be further restricted and the supervision on the internet would affect research and news reporting.
  5. Article 43 states that Police can “requiring a person, who is suspected, on reasonable grounds, of having in possession information or material relevant to investigation, to answer questions and furnish such information or produce such material”. We are concerned that the journalistic materials are no longer protected under the existing local law. The article also mentioned that “upon approval of the Chief Executive, carrying out interception of communications and conducting covert surveillance on a person who is suspected, on reasonable grounds, of having involved in the commission of an offence endangering national security”, which is different compared to the current regulation on the pre-requisition of court warrant for interception of communications. We are concerned that the law enforcement department can freely intercept the dialogues between the journalists and interviewees, thus increasing the difficulties of news reporting.
  6. Article 59 states, “Any person who has information pertaining to an offence endangering national security under this Law is obliged to testify truthfully”. We are concerned that journalists reporting news related cases defined having Mainland jurisdiction will be forced to testify in the Mainland. We expect the current legal protection on journalists, news organizations and journalistic materials to be maintained.
  7. Future cases regarded as unsuitable to have open court trial would be tried in chambers, public and the press would be restrained from hearing. HKJA is concerned that the public’s right to know will be undermined. We hope that all cases continue to be open to the press.
  8. As a cosmopolitan city, the role of foreign media is very important in Hong Kong. We hope that regular news reporting will not be threatened after enactment of Nation Security Law.
  9. The sweeping nature of contents relating to collusion with external forces makes individuals or groups to fall into the trap easily. As a trade union, Hong Kong Journalists Association tries its best to defend freedom of the press and media ethics, increase the professionalism of journalists. We have been conducting networking and experience sharing activities with foreign news and academic organizations. We expect our operations and activities can be safeguarded after the implementation of the Hong Kong National Security Law.

Hong Kong Journalists Association

1 July 2020

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