Members Area

An Open Letter to Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor Seeking Clarification on National Security Law

On June 24, representatives from the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong, delivered an open letter to the Chief Executive of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Hon Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, seeking clarification of the potential impact of the pending national security law on the city’s media including foreign correspondents, and on the broader implications for press freedom.

Survey: Journalists in Hong Kong fear for personal safety as China pushes national security law through

A new survey conducted by the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) and released on June 19 showed that an overwhelming majority of journalists in Hong Kong worry about their personal safety if the new national security law is enacted. The legislation, approved by the National People’s Congress in Beijing, would criminalize any act of secession, subversion, terrorism, foreign intervention, and allows Chinese security forces to operate in the city.

Read the CPJ report on the survey here.

So much at stake if Rappler’s Maria Ressa is jailed, says leading press freedom advocate

The conviction of journalist and Rappler founder, Maria Ressa, is a “Waterloo moment” for press freedom, says a leading advocate for the protection of journalists.

FCC First Vice President, Eric Wishart, interviews Joel Simon and Amelia Brace. FCC First Vice President, Eric Wishart, interviews Joel Simon and Amelia Brace.

Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), told an FCC webinar that the full force of the press freedom movement was being deployed to protect Ressa, who was sentenced to six years in prison by a Philippines court on June 15 for cyber libel. Ressa and Rappler’s reporting has been critical of President Rodrigo Duterte’s government.

Simon, a friend of Ressa, said her conviction would have far-reaching consequences and that it was crucial to prevent her being jailed.

“We have to win because if we do not win, if we cannot keep Maria Ressa out of prison, then every tyrant and every repressive government will feel that they can act against journalists without consequence. So much is at stake. It’s an absolute Waterloo moment for the press freedom movement,” he said.

Joining Simon on the June 18 webinar on the growing threats to journalists during the recent Black Lives Matter protests in the United States was Australian journalist Amelia Brace. The US correspondent for Australia’s Seven Network was attacked along with her TV crew by police just yards from the White House as the area was cleared to make way for a presidential photo opportunity. Footage shows how cameraman Tim Myers was injured when a police officer in riot gear hit him with a shield before punching the camera. Brace was struck several times across the back with a baton and hit by pepper balls ahead of President Donald Trump’s walk from the White House to nearby St. John’s Church.

The video of the attack has been watched on the network’s video channel more than 8 million times. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the incident as ‘troubling’ and called for an investigation.

“It was a terrifying moment and quite a violent moment as a journalist,” Brace admitted. “The heavy-handed approach by police was completely disproportionate.”

Simon added that the CPJ’s U.S. Press Freedom Tracker had documented more than 400 attacks on journalists by police in the United States since the protests began. He said he believed that the militarisation of the police force was the dynamic that accounted for the significant rise in attacks on credentialized reporters covering the nationwide demonstrations.

“This is how the police in the United States are trained,” he said.

Watch the webinar

Reminder of minimum-spend

Reminder of Minimum-spend
       

Dear Members:

Please note this further reminder that members must meet their minimum-spend requirement of HK $1,800 for the six months to June 30 or they will be charged after that date.

We encourage you to use your outstanding minimum spend at the club before then. You can use it in any of the outlets, for take-away food and wine, or to purchase souvenir items.

Additionally, we have added vouchers — in denominations of HK$50, $100 and $500 — that can be purchased at reception by June 30 to be used in the club through Nov. 30, 2020. (Certain conditions apply including not being eligible for wine home delivery or to offset future minimum spend, and are not transferable.)

We appreciate your support and look forward to assisting you. For enquiries please call 2521 1708 or email [email protected]

19 June 2020

 

 

 

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FCC Hong Kong deplores guilty verdict against Maria Ressa, Reynaldo Santos

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club Hong Kong deplores the guilty verdict against Rappler CEO and executive editor Maria Ressa and its former researcher-writer Reynaldo Santos on cyber libel charges.

Maria Ressa at the May 17 FCC club lunch. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC Maria Ressa at the May 17 FCC club lunch. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC

A court in Manila sentenced them to up to six years in jail but they can appeal the verdict.

“The FCC is gravely concerned about the precedent this sets and the possible chilling effect on the press in the Philippines and across the region,” said FCC president Jodi Schneider. “Press freedom, already endangered in the Philippines, is now further undermined with this high-profile verdict.”

Ressa, executive editor of news website Rappler.com, was arrested last year over an allegedly defamatory article published in 2012 which linked a businessman to trafficking and drug smuggling. She denied charges of cyber libel, calling them “baseless”. The move came several months after a warrant was issued for her arrest on seven charges of tax fraud — a case she called “politically motivated”. Rappler has been a frequent critic of President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration.

Ressa co-founded Rappler in 2012 and turned it into one of the region’s most influential media outlets, even as the Philippines government arrested her and made efforts in the courts to silence her and the publication.

With a career in journalism spanning more than 30 years in Asia, she has won multiple awards for her work, including the 2018 Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists. In December 2018, Ressa was named a Time Person of the Year, and most recently was chosen as among Time’s 100 most influential people of 2019.

She has been a regular speaker on press freedom at FCC Hong Kong events.

The conviction of Ressa under the Philippines’ 2012 cyber libel law confirms widespread fears it would be used against online journalists and would harm the freedom of the press in the country. The law allows for up to 12 years in prison for a conviction of cyber libel, and cases can be brought as many as 12 years after an article or post, posing grave risks to journalists who wish to report and write critically on those in power.

Freelance journalist Laurel Chor recognised for Hong Kong protests coverage

Laurel Chor, a freelancer and FCC member, has been given an honourable mention in the International Women’s Media Foundation’s (IWMF) annual Anja Niedringhaus Courage in Photojournalism Award for her coverage of the Hong Kong protests and showing the region’s struggle for democracy, freedom and human rights.

Laurel Chor. Laurel Chor.

Named after German AP photojournalist Anja Niedringhaus, who was killed in 2014, the award recognises gripping, nuanced photojournalism that inspires action. This year’s awardee was Masrat Zahra (Kashmir), and an additional honourable mention was awarded to Nahira Montcourt (Puerto Rico).

Chor is an award-winning freelance photojournalist from Hong Kong. In 2019, she worked with the New York Times, National Geographic, Getty, AFP, Reuters, EPA, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, NBC News, the Telegraph, the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong Free Press, the New Humanitarian, the Spectator, the Nikkei Asian Review, the Guardian, the Washington Post and Quartz.

Currently, Chor is covering the Hong Kong protests. Previously, she was the Asia reporter and producer for VICE News Tonight on HBO, covering news, culture and politics across the region: from the Rohingya refugee crisis to the Chinese social credit system, from the assassination of Kim Jong Un’s half-brother to Chinese “boy” bands and from the earthquake in Palu, Indonesia to the war on drugs in Bangladesh.

Prior to that, Chor was the managing editor for Coconuts Hong Kong. In 2013, Jane Goodall appointed her to be the ambassador for the Jane Goodall Institute in Hong Kong.

Commenting on Chor’s portfolio, the jury noted that her portfolio demonstrated, “unique framing, complex commentary on community and great skill with the sequencing of the narrative.”

British policing expert who resigned from IPCC probe into Hong Kong protests wouldn’t ‘feel safe’ returning to city

A British expert in protest policing who withdrew from an international panel appointed by Hong Kong’s police complaints body to investigate the policing of last year’s protests has said he would not feel safe returning to the city.

Professor Clifford Stott during the June 11 FCC webinar on protest policing. Photo: FCC Professor Clifford Stott during the June 11 FCC webinar on protest policing. Photo: FCC

Professor Clifford Stott of Keele University told an FCC webinar that he and other panel members resigned because they were “manipulated and put in an awkward position” as they worked to advise the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) on its report into the 2019 anti-government unrest. When the IPCC finally published its report in May 2020, which cleared the force of misconduct, Prof Stott said it was missing key pieces of data. This, he said, called into question the IPCC’s powers, capacity and independent investigative capability. He is soon to release his own paper on his findings.

“We were put in a difficult position. We were in the end manipulated and put in an awkward position,” Prof Stott said, adding: “There is no way I could have stood by that report.”

When asked if he thought he would be allowed to visit Hong Kong in the future, Prof Stott said: “I would love to come back, of course I would, but I don’t think I’d feel safe.”

While Prof Stott was reluctant to expand on his claim of manipulation, he revealed that information collected by the panel from protesters and legal professionals had not been included in the final report. They included accounts of what had happened to protesters after they were arrested and their lack of access to legal representation.

“We heard shocking information about what had happened… on August 11 at the detention centre in particular. That data is not in the IPCC report,” he said.

Prof Stott is an expert in protest policing whose research has informed policy and practice for a range of government and police organisations in the U.K., including the Home Office and the Association of Chief Police Officers, among others. He spoke about the protests currently sweeping the United States and Britain in the wake of the death of American George Floyd at the hands of a police officer, commenting that the movement is part of a pattern developing globally in response to poor social conditions.

Prof Stott said COVID-19 was “the great amplifier of inequality” as it highlighted social shortfalls. He added that calls for the defunding of the police were in fact calls for funds to be diverted into social care such as youth and mental health services to solve the problems at source.

“The state often ends up funding the police to mop up problems that could have been solved by investing in other areas,” he said.

Watch the video

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club Awards Clare Hollingworth Fellowships

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club Awards Clare Hollingworth Fellowships
FELLOWS
Jennifer Creery
Jennifer Creery is a Managing Editor and reporter with the Hong Kong Free Press. She has previously interned at Al Jazeera,
the Press Association and the Independent.
Tiffany Liang
Tiffany Liang is a freelance reporter with the Washington Post.
She was previously a junior reporter at HK01 and a trainee at RTHK Putonghua channel, Guangdong Broadcast
Television and the Southern Metropolis Daily.
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club is pleased to announce that it has chosen Jennifer Creery and Tiffany Liang as recipients of the second annual Clare Hollingworth Fellowship, named in honor of the preeminent and path-breaking journalist.

 

The panel of judges noted the winners offer clear potential as future leaders both within the FCC and the wider Hong Kong journalism community.

 

“We had a competitive pool of applicants and the two winners were especially impressive in their journalistic talent and their potential,” said Jodi Schneider, president of the FCC. “We are heartened by the interest in journalism in Hong Kong and in the FCC as a center for the press here. It gives us great hope for the future of our profession.”

 

The Fellowship is focused on early-career journalists and current journalism school students in Hong Kong.

 

The open competition drew significant interest from a cross spectrum of applicants. The adjudicators noted the high standard of applicants and encouraged all to apply again next year.

 

For further information on the Fellowship, please see
here: https://www.fcchk.org/clarehollingworth/

 

Statement on FCC Board Members’ Second Meeting with Hong Kong Police

A delegation from the FCC board led by club president Jodi Schneider met representatives of the police public relations branch at police headquarters on June 2 to discuss the situation for reporters on the ground in the light of new police tactics.

To facilitate the discussion we agreed it was off the record though with the understanding we would be issuing a report giving the general areas of discussion.

This was a follow-up to our initial October 10 meeting, and comes after a recent series of incidents in which journalists were once again the target of unprovoked attacks by police wielding pepper spray and tear gas.

In some instances, journalists were prevented from reporting on demonstrations by new control techniques, like the use of orange tape to cordon off scenes of police action. Some officers deliberately obstructed photographers by putting their hands in front of cameras.

Police Commissioner Chris Tang Ping-keung had held a meeting on May 21 with four local journalist associations during which he offered a personal apology for the way the reporters were treated during demonstrations on May 10, Mother’s Day.

The FCC had asked to attend that discussion, but the police preferred a separate meeting given the particular concerns of the international media in Hong Kong and that the May 21 meeting was conducted in Cantonese.

The discussion was open and candid, lasting more than an hour-and-a-half, as the police side listened to our concerns about the need for unobstructed access to see and record freely when arrests are being made and when police dispersal operations are underway.

We insisted that journalists identified by yellow vests, and who were not obstructing or interfering with ongoing police operations, should be considered working reporters and respected as such, even in situations where some non-journalists and other observers might be mingling with or behind the press corps.

The police representatives acknowledged the FCC board members’ explanation of the new media ecosystem, which includes numerous new online media outlets and a large number of freelance journalists and unaffiliated journalists who deserve the same rights to cover events free of interference and harassment as those working for large or well-known organisations.

We reminded them that press freedom is a right guaranteed under Hong Kong law, which the representatives acknowledged.

For their side, the police representatives acknowledged that transparency through unhindered media coverage also serves the interests of frontline police offers on the streets.

To help improve working relations on the ground, they said they were adding additional “blue vest” media liaison officers.

The two sides agreed to continue the dialogue and to explore ways that might help the Hong Kong police force and its frontline officers better understand the role and needs of journalists covering demonstrations.

The FCC welcomes this ongoing discussion as a way to protect the rights of journalists, and we will keep our members informed of any additional contacts or next steps.

FCC statement expressing solidarity with journalists covering protests in United States

The FCC Hong Kong wishes to express its solidarity with journalists in the United States who are facing attacks from both protesters and police while covering the current demonstrations.

Several of the journalists who have been targeted work for news organisations represented at the club.

The FCC insists that journalists should be allowed to carry out their work without fear of harassment, violence or arrest, whether it is in the streets of Hong Kong, Minneapolis, New York, Los Angeles or elsewhere in the world.

This is yet another reminder of the dangers involved in covering street violence, with which media in Hong Kong have become all too familiar over the past year.

Essential advice for reporters is contained in the videos of the club’s series of safety briefings that were held during last year’s protests.

The Committee to Protect Journalists has also just issued these guidelines.

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