As professional journalists, we have always adhered to the principle of objectivity when covering controversial issues. But deep down, our higher calling is to defend freedom, fight for justice and tell the truth. Therefore, we must stand up and call on the Government to withdraw the amendment of the controversial Fugitive Offenders Ordinance.
This is because
We have heard Zhou Qiang, Chief Justice of the Supreme People’s Court of the People’s Republic of China, saying that it is necessary to resolutely resist judicial independence;
We have seen mainland authorities trumping up a list of baseless allegations against journalists, including possession of drugs, smuggling, bribery and fraud;
We know it is very difficult for the Chief Executive to say no to the Central Government;
We understand that Hong Kong courts have no ways to question the fairness and impartiality of the Mainland’s public prosecution.
The Government’s amendments to the extradition bill fail to remedy its fundamental flaws. It has ignored the requirements under international human rights covenant. This is because the bill, if passed, allows the transfer of people to countries that do not have fair trial systems, where they may face torture, inhuman or degrading treatment.
As journalist who have access to first-hand information, we are neither being misled nor have misunderstood the bill. We know clearly we may be the subject of request of transfer from the mainland authorities for us to face trial there. It is like a sword hanging over the head that will muzzle both journalists and whistle-blowers, dealing a further blow to the diminishing freedom of speech in Hong Kong.
There will be no freedom of expression if there is no freedom from fear.
We can see clearly the last firewall between Hong Kong and the Mainland will vanish if the bill is passed into law. The cornerstone of the rule of law in Hong Kong will also be destroyed. It will weaken Hong Kong’s status as an international financial centre. Hong Kong will become just another city of mainland China.
For the overall interest of Hong Kong, we must speak up to defend freedom and justice – the core values that Hong Kong people cherish.
Hong Kong Journalists Association