HKJA Protests Against Police for Trampling on Media’s Right to Ask Questions

A reporter was detained by the police for loudly directing a question at President Hu Jintao during his visit. Such an incident has never happened in Hong Kong before. This shows that the police have taken to blatantly trample on press freedom. This is simply outrageous and the HKJA strongly condemns such action and demands that the Hong Kong Police Force stop adopting the practices of the mainland police.

As we understand it, the Apple Daily reporter asked President Hu Jintao a question about June 4 loudly when Mr Hu was visiting the cruise pier in East Kowloon. The reporter was immediately detained by police officers and held for 15 minutes. The reporter was told that he had asked his question too loudly and interrupted public order. However, the police were unable to tell exactly which law the reporter had violated.

It is the task and duty of reporters to ask questions. It is irrelevant whether questions are asked loudly or softly. HKJA strongly objects to the Hong Kong police adopting the mainland practice of prohibiting reporters from asking questions of leaders during their visits to public places. This violates the most basic principle of press freedom and contradicts the open policy emphasized by the Chinese government.

We are deeply concerned that the police only detained the reporter who asked a question about June 4, while other reporters who asked other questions loudly were left alone. Are the police trying to set rules over what reporters can or cannot ask?. This is trampling on press freedom.

The Secretary of Security, Mr Ambrose Lee and the top officials of the police have just said that they had gained experience after the excessive press restrictions imposed during vice-premier Li Keqiang’s visit were strongly criticised. They also said they would maintain a relaxed environment for protesters and reporters. But in this instance the reporter was detained because he asked a sensitive question. This is totally unacceptable to us. We are deeply concerned that this example will have a chilling effect on reporters and further restrict press freedom. We demand an apology from the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Tsang Wai-hung. We also demand from him an assurance that this will not happen again – ever.

HKJA
30/6/2012

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