We deeply regret the decision by the Thai authorities to continue the prosecution of a Hong Kong photo journalist for carrying body armour and a helmet, despite an international appeal for the case to be dropped.
Anthony Kwan Hok-chun, who was arrested on August 23, was given back his passport and told he could leave the country in yesterday’s bail hearing.
However, the charge of breaching the country’s Arms Control Act by carrying a bulletproof jacket and helmet remains. The charge carries a maximum jail sentence of five years.
The charge against Mr. Kwan is without foundation. It is necessary for journalists around the world to carry body armour and helmet to enable them to work in dangerous situations. The equipment carried by Mr. Kwan, who was in the country to report on the Bangkok bombing that killed two Hong Kong tourists, is no exception.
We urge the Thai authorities not to press ahead with the criminal case against Mr Kwan and to work with the media community in Thailand to decriminalise the legitimate use of body armour and other relevant protective items.
We also urge the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government to push for an immediate quashing of the charge against Mr Kwan.
Hong Kong Journalists Association
Hong Kong Press Photographers Association
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong
7 September 2015