Hong Kong journalists protest new accreditation rules

Hong Kong’s professional journalism association on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020, protested new rules restricting who can provide press coverage during demonstrations, saying the government has no right to determine who is or isn’t a reporter. (File/AP/Kin Cheung)
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Updated 24 September 2020

Hong Kong journalists protest new accreditation rules

  • The rules outlined in a Tuesday letter from police have been criticized as a further erosion of the semi-autonomous Chinese territory’s once robust press freedoms
  • Only journalists registered with the Government News and Media Information Service or members of ‘internationally recognized and reputable’ foreign media will be recognized

HONG KONG: Hong Kong’s professional journalism association on Thursday protested new rules restricting who can provide press coverage during demonstrations, saying the government has no right to determine who is or isn’t a reporter.
The rules outlined in a Tuesday letter from police have been criticized as a further erosion of the semi-autonomous Chinese territory’s once robust press freedoms since Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law in June that has had a chilling effect on political speech.
Only journalists registered with the Government News and Media Information Service or members of “internationally recognized and reputable” foreign media outlets will be recognized as journalists during protests, according to the police letter.
That appears to undercut the authority of the Hong Kong Journalists Association and Hong Kong Press Photographers Association to vet candidates for membership and issue press cards, placing that right solely in the hands of government officials, as is the case in mainland China.
“Police cannot be permitted to use administrative means to screen only officially recognized media, thus undermining the fundamental rights of the people of Hong Kong,” the Hong Kong Journalists Association said in a statement.
In their letter, the police said their goal is to weed out troublemakers posing as journalists who they say disrupted police action against protesters over several months of sometimes violent anti-government demonstrations.
“Following the amendment, the definition of ‘media representatives’ will become clearer and unequivocal, allowing front-line officers to efficiently and swiftly verify the identity of media representatives so that facilitation can be provided without compromising police operational efficiency,” the police letter said.
The regulations leave it to the police to determine what media outlets are “internationally recognized and reputable” and could discriminate against freelancers and independent and student journalists, who often work alone with minimal equipment and infrastructure.
Hong Kong has dropped steadily in Reporters Without Borders annual World Press Freedom Index, falling seven places this year to 80.
Hong Kong’s press freedom “is already in retreat as a result of pressure from Beijing,” the group said, citing among cases the expulsion of Financial Times Asia editor Victor Mallet in October 2018 after he chaired an even at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong that was condemned by Beijing.


Missing Pakistani TV reporter is found after 72 hours

Updated 24 October 2020

Missing Pakistani TV reporter is found after 72 hours

  • Geo's bureau chief in Karachi said Ali Imran Syed had contacted his wife to say that he had reached his mother’s home
  • Earlier police registered the journalist’s disappearance as an “abduction” case without naming suspects

ISLAMABAD: A reporter working for Pakistan’s leading Geo News television who had gone missing in the southern port city of Karachi has been found, family and colleague said Saturday.
Geo bureau chief in Karachi, Fahim Siddiqi, said Ali Imran Syed had contacted his wife by phone to say that he had reached his mother’s home.
Earlier police registered the journalist’s disappearance as an “abduction” case without naming suspects.
The reporter left home late Friday evening telling his wife that he would be back in half an hour before disappearing for 72 hours.
Recently there have been several cases of Pakistani journalists being detained or abducted for several hours, before being released.
Azhar Abbas, head of the Geo TV, earlier said he has contacted provincial and federal authorities “to help trace the missing reporter” and “ensure his safety.”
Siddiqi said the reporter’s abduction may have been related to his work on recent political events, including the arrest of an opposition leader who is the son-in-law of former premier Nawaz Sharif.
Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari said in a tweet no one should “disappear in a democracy”.
Pakistani media has been facing renewed pressure from state agencies that have sought to control the topics covered by the media and even restrict the selection of guests for TV talk shows.
Journalists and press freedom advocates often accuse the Pakistani military and security agencies of pressuring media outlets to prevent critical coverage.
In December last year, a Karachi based reporter with the Express Tribune newspaper, Bilal Farooqi, was arrested on charges of spreading hateful content against the country’s military on social media.
In July, Matiullah Jan was briefly detained. Jan is known for criticism of Pakistan’s military and security agencies.

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