The Hong Kong Journalists Association and the Hong Kong Press Photographers Association have called on the responsible organisations of the United Nations to set up an adhoc group to look into their complaint against on the Hong Kong Police Force for their violence towards journalists.
In its report to the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression (SR on FOE), the two organisations said Police have repeatedly attacked, detained and even arrested journalists during the year-long protests. Journalists have been frequently blocked from reporting at the scene.
Citing a survey by the HKJA published in April, more than 80% of the journalists who had covered the protests had experienced various kinds of police violence and interference with their work.
Beginning from 2020, the interference has become more systematic, targeting at a much bigger number of journalists, the HKJA said. Citing the need for identity check, which is more an excuse, the Police have often detained and dispersed journalists with the use of force, at times violently, from the scene, making their reporting work extremely difficult, if not impossible.
By 2020, the interference has become more systematic, aiming at a much larger number of journalists, their report wrote. With the excuse of identity check, police often stop and search, detained with violence and removed journalists from the scene making reporting very difficult if not impossible.
A total of 143 complaints have been lodged to the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) by HKJA and other media organisations and journalists. They noted that the IPCC has failed to hold the police accountable for their wrongdoings. The IPCC has put the blame on journalists for their injuries. They repeated the police’s unfounded claims of fake press cards.
The failure of the IPCC has only given more credence to the criticism by the UN regarding the lack of an independent investigation mechanism against the police in Hong Kong in their previous reports.
The two associations made the following recommendations to the responsible UN bodies and the SR: (please refer to the appendix for details)
- Setting up an ad hoc group in respect of the situation in Hong Kong to make comments and recommendations;
- Requesting an official visit to Hong Kong;
- Asking the Hong Kong government for its investigation into misconduct of police officers against journalists and details of any disciplinary actions?
- Calling on the Hong Kong government for an independent investigation into police misconduct against journalists;
- Expressing their concerns about freedom of expression in Hong Kong.
They called on the SR to remind the government of its obligations under the United National General Assembly Resolution 68/163 that said: “Member States to do their utmost to prevent violence against journalists and media workers, to ensure accountability through the conduct of impartial, speedy and effective investigations into all alleged violence against journalists and media workers falling within their jurisdiction and to bring the perpetrators of such crimes to justice and ensure that victims have access to appropriate remedies.”
Hong Kong Journalists Association
Hong Kong Press Photographers Association
26 June 2020