The Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) has today (3 October 2019) filed an application for leave to bring judicial review proceedings against the Commissioner of Police. This challenge relates to failings by the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF) to comply with constitutional and public law duties to facilitate journalistic activities.
Since June, when the territory-wide protests began, journalists have been subjected to a pattern of deliberately aggressive and obstructive police tactics as well as unnecessary and excessive force.
The HKJA has brought these issues to the attention of the Commissioner of Police and the government, through numerous public statements and a raft of complaints lodged with the Commissioner from members of the HKJA and the Hong Kong Photojournalists Association.
The Commissioner of Police and the HK Government has however failed to take any effective steps to remedy the situation and ensure compliance with the constitutional and public law duties of the police with respect to freedom of the press.
The HKJA has therefore filed this judicial review to seek declarations from the High Court that the conduct of the police has been unlawful and that the police and the government have positive duties to uphold freedom of the press and to investigate complaints.
This application refers to a raft of incidences of police failings and misconduct towards journalists over the last few months. These range from incidences of abusive and insulting language, use of high intensity lights and strobe lighting to interfere with visual recording equipment, exclusion of reporters from relevant scenes and locations, deliberate blocking of reporters line of sight to reportable events, deliberate withholding of police officers identities as well as incidents of journalists being beaten, kicked, pepper-sprayed, targeted with tear gas, having tear gas grenades thrown directly at them, having water cannon directed at them and being shot with rubber bullets and bean bag rounds.
“We firmly believe that freedom of expression and freedom of the press are the cornerstones of Hong Kong that must be maintained. We look to the court to exercise its supervisory role and seek the declarations from the court so that the HKPF and the Commissioner of Police can be held to account,” Chris Yeung, HKJA Chairperson said.
Enquiries regarding the legal aspect of the case, including requests for a sight of a copy of the application filed, can be directed to the HKJA by email at [email protected]
Hong Kong Journalists Association
3 October 2019