Statement on Results of FCC’s Press Freedom Survey
An anonymous survey of the FCC’s Correspondent and Journalist members reveals that many are finding the working conditions in Hong Kong to be increasingly difficult.
This finding, if taken as a true indication of the sentiment amongst other members, is an alarming reflection of the current state of press freedom in the city.
Of 66 respondents who replied, 55 persons (83 percent) said the environment for journalists had changed for the worse in the last 18 months. Whilst only 22.5 percent of the 294 eligible Correspondent and Journalist members chose to complete the survey, the FCC nevertheless regards these findings as significant.
It was found that of 52 respondents who indicated that speaking to sources is part of their job, 46 persons (88 percent) said they found sources in Hong Kong had become less willing to be quoted or to discuss sensitive subjects in the last 18 months, a telling indication of fear levels in the community.
Four respondents to the survey said that they had experienced digital surveillance while reporting in Hong Kong in the last 18 months. One person said they had experienced physical surveillance, and four more people said that they had experienced both digital and physical surveillance. These respondents chose not to provide further details in the survey.
Respondents also reported taking a more cautious approach to content. Sixty-five percent of respondents (43 persons) said that they had practiced self-censorship in the last 18 months, either in the content of their reporting or by avoiding certain subjects. Twenty-seven percent of those (12 persons) said they had self-censored “considerably”.
That is a notable increase from October 2021, when the FCC’s last press freedom survey (in which there were 99 respondents) found that 56 percent of those respondents had self-censored, including 16 percent of them to a considerable degree.
The FCC supports journalists’ fundamental right to conduct their work freely and without fear of intimidation or harassment.
We will continue our proactive engagement with relevant authorities to safeguard press freedom in the city in order to make sure that Hong Kong remains a thriving hub for journalism and business in the region.
Read the full results of the survey, which was conducted in May, in the latest edition of the club’s magazine, The Correspondent.
FCC Statement Condemning the Arrest of Freelance Photojournalist
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club Hong Kong condemns the arrest of freelance photojournalist May James, who was asked to remove her face mask by police while covering a protest in Mongkok on Sunday evening, October 27. At the time, she had identified herself as a journalist, wearing a high-visibility yellow vest, a helmet and backpack marked with the word “press” and produced a press identification card when questioned, according to footage of the arrest.
James was searched, arrested and then detained overnight at a police station in Kowloon. She was released early today. As a freelance photographer, James has photographed the protests for Hong Kong Free Press, AFP and others news organizations. She has shared her experiences documenting the Hong Kong protests in The Correspondent, the FCC’s magazine, as well as on a recent FCC panel with other photographers and video journalists, where she discussed the risks and responsibilities of her job.
Several other reporters were also required by police to remove their face masks in the course of their reporting duties Sunday night, despite government assurances that journalists would be exempt from the face-mask ban while carrying out their professional duties. These masks are used by reporters to protect against tear gas and pepper spray, and by law, anyone who requires the masks for professional use should be exempt from the regulation. Police appeared to use force when removing the masks and interfered with the work of reporters covering the street protests.
On Sunday night, a representative from the FCC was able to reach out to two spokesmen from the Hong Kong Police Force, including the acting superintendent for the Police Public Relations Branch, to ascertain James’s whereabouts. The contacts were a result of the FCC’s recent meeting with police representatives. Opening this channel of communication was a practical outcome from our meeting with the police and helps in the defence of journalists and FCC members.
The FCC again calls for an independent investigation into police violence against journalists and interference with the media’s right to cover the protests under Hong Kong law. The FCC urges that an investigation should be transparent.
We have expressed our concern about such incidents since the start of the protests in June, yet violence against journalists and interference continue. These incidents, including the arrest of the photojournalist last evening, undermine Hong Kong’s reputation as a place where the media can work freely, without harassment or intimidation.
October 28, 2019
CPJ calls on Hong Kong chief executive to establish body to probe police violence against journalists
FCC Statement Condemning Further Violence Against Journalists Covering the Hong Kong Protests
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong expresses its deep concern over multiple reports of police violence on Sept. 28 and Sept. 29 against journalists covering the Hong Kong protests.
They include a report of a serious injury to an Indonesian journalist working for a Hong Kong-based publication who was shot in the face by a police officer using a non-lethal round. Footage from the incident shows she was clearly identified as a journalist and that the police officer fired a parting shot from only a few meters away.
Eyewitness reports from journalists, and video and photos shared on social media, have documented incidents over the weekend that included:
* Journalists being hit by tear gas canisters and rubber bullets;
* Police targeting visibly identified journalists with pepper spray;
* The press being hit by spray from a water cannon containing dye and an agent that causes skin irritation;
* Journalists being verbally threatened by police;
* Police officers deliberately shining bright lights at journalists to impede their access and coverage;
*Police blocking journalists’ cameras and video cameras especially while making arrests of protesters.
The FCC is investigating these reports and calls for police restraint, especially with planned demonstrations in Hong Kong on the October 1 anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. The FCC calls for journalists to be able to cover the protests without interference or threat of attack, which is a right provided under Hong Kong law. The FCC also emphasizes that the media has a right to film and photograph police activity in public places, as long as the press is not impeding them.
The FCC continues to call for an independent inquiry into violence against journalists and interference with the media’s ability to cover the protests. The FCC urges that any such investigation should be transparent.
We have expressed our concern over these types of incidents since the start of the protests in June, yet the violence and interference has only escalated. The multiple incidents on Sept. 28 and Sept. 29 marked a dramatic deterioration in the ability of the media to cover the protests and seriously undermine Hong Kong’s long reputation as a place where journalists can work freely and without harassment.
HKJA statement condemning doxxing of journalists
The Hong Kong Journalists Association has condemned the publishing online of journalists’ personal details, known as doxxing. In a statement, it called on the government and police to condemn and “thoroughly investigate” attacks on journalists, including these recent instances of publishing personal data.
The FCC joins the HKJA in expressing its grave concern over the adoption of this tactic to intimidate journalists in Hong Kong, who are already facing physical violence from police, attacks by thugs at protests, verbal abuse and online trolling.
Silent Protest to be Held at FCC
Members will hold a silent protest outside the FCC on Wednesday, Sept. 18, at 6:00 p.m. to show our concern about increasing limits to media access and violence against journalists covering the Hong Kong protests. We’ll gather under the banner “Yes to press freedom, no to violence against journalists.”
FCC Statement Condemning Increasing Acts of Violence Against Journalists
FCC Statement Condemning Increasing Acts of Violence Against Journalists
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club strongly condemns the increasing number of incidents involving police violence against journalists covering protests in Hong Kong. Assaults of journalists are becoming more serious, undermining the media’s ability to do their jobs and Hong Kong’s commitment to freedom of the press.
The FCC expresses grave concern over multiple eyewitness reports and widely circulating video footage that appear to show police officers spraying pepper spray at close range at numerous reporters and photographers on Saturday night around 10:30p.m. on Nathan Road, including spraying at least two journalists directly in the eyes. Accounts appear to show journalists with press identification—clearly marked vests and helmets–in an area with no protesters directly present near the scene. They did not appear to be interfering with police operations.
These actions by members of the Hong Kong Police Force are unacceptable and constitute a violation of the right under Hong Kong law for journalists to cover protests free of intimidation or violence by authorities.
The repeated and consistent reports of police violence against journalists covering the protests have become too many for the Hong Kong government and the international community to ignore and seem to be increasing in frequency. Given this deteriorating situation, the FCC reiterates its demand that the government follow the advice of numerous prominent Hong Kong organizations, along with civic and political leaders, and establish an independent commission of inquiry to investigate all forms of violence and intimidation directed at journalists since the start of the protests in June. We urge that such investigations be thorough and transparent.
The FCC also calls on the Commissioner of Police to publicly address these worrying reports and to clearly state that the HKPF respects freedom of the press and the right of journalists to cover events, including police operations, unfettered and free of violence and threats.
The FCC regrets that the Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai Chung has failed to respond to its letter to him of August 11 proposing measures that could rebuild confidence between the police and the media, and inviting him to speak at the club.
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club stands with the Hong Kong Journalists Association, the Hong Kong Photojournalist Association and with freelance and unaffiliated journalists in condemning acts of violence directed at the media and in demanding the Hong Kong government and police respect Hong Kong’s long tradition of press freedom.
Club notice: New operating hours for Main Bar and Lounge
|Please be informed that, due to operational and cost reasons, the Board of Governors has decided that with effect from 15 August, the Main Bar and Lounge will close at midnight from Sunday to Wednesday unless there is a special event. The Main Bar remains open until 2:00 am from Thursday night through Saturday night.|
|Thank you for your kind attention.|
Club notice: Absent and temporary members
Visitors to Hong Kong who wish to use the club on the basis of being (i) absent members, (ii) visiting journalists, (iii) temporary members, or (iv) reciprocal club members are strongly encouraged to contact the club’s membership office before they visit Hong Kong. They may register at the club’s front office on their arrival, although processing may be delayed depending on the workload of the day.
Contact the Club before you plan to visit at [email protected]; provide the Club at least three days advance notice of your arrival.