Retired police officer Yeung Chi-wai has been cleared of charges that he attacked a press photographer. The Hong Kong Press Photographers Association, Hong Kong Journalists Association and Next Media Trade Union respect the court’s findings but, nevertheless, regret the outcome.
On the day of the incident, Next Magazine Photographer Lo Kwok-fai was surrounded, heckled and repeatedly jostled by protesters, causing him to fall on the road, and injuring his back and knee.
We are concerned that the judgement will set a bad precedent, giving the general public the impression that violence against reporters and press photographers is of little consequence if not implicitly approved by the authorities. Such a situation would be a grave threat to journalists in carrying out their everyday duties, and a direct challenge to media freedom.
We, therefore, strongly urge the Department of Justice to consider lodging an appeal over the court’s decision in order to protect one of our most treasured core values, press freedom, and the safety of media personnel, as well as stemming further deterioration in the public’s right to know.
We hope our citizens understand that freedom of the press and free speech form the cornerstone of Hong Kong’s success. It is totally unacceptable that journalists should become the targets of violence when carrying out their duties on behalf of the general public.
Hong Kong Press Photographers Association
Hong Kong Journalists Association
Next Media Trade Union
21 January 2014