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FCC letter to Hong Kong Commissioner of Police, Lo Wai Chung, Stephen

Commissioner Lo Wai Chung, Stephen

Commissioner of Police

Police Headquarters

Arsenal Street

Wanchai, HK

Monday, 12 August 2019

 

An open letter to Hong Kong Commissioner of Police, Stephen Lo Wai-chung

Dear Commissioner Lo,

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong is greatly concerned about the deterioration in relations between the police and media since the onset of the anti-extradition bill protests in June. We are particularly concerned at the escalation of violence at numerous locations across the city over the weekend of August 10 and 11, 2019.

We appreciate the efforts of the police to improve transparency by holding regular press conferences. However, we feel the most pressing issues concern the actions of some frontline officers and their interaction with the media whilst covering protests. Journalists should not interfere with police work and neither should the police deliberately hinder nor prevent journalists from doing their job. With this in mind, we offer the following concrete suggestions for your consideration.

1.          Police officers should refrain from shining lights directly at news photographers and camera operators.

2.          Officers should assume that those at a protest who are wearing jackets and helmets clearly marked “Press”, “記者 etc. are actually journalists and not imposters. The Hong Kong government does not issue an official press card. As such journalists can only produce cards issued by their employer or affiliated organisation.

3.          Police should exercise much greater restraint in the use of tear gas. The victims of excessive tear gas deployment in residential areas include residents, bystanders and journalists covering the demonstrations as well as the protesters themselves. The firing of tear gas rounds inside Kwai Fong MTR Station on Sunday, August 11, 2019, was particularly egregious and posed a serious health risk.

4.          Police officers should, whenever possible, ensure that their ID is visible and present their warrant card on request if needed. We are aware that many officers are concerned at possible doxing attacks, the publishing of personal contact details, but we would remind them that they are public servants who should be held accountable for their actions.

5.          Liaison officers should be embedded in every tactical unit deployed at each protest site. It is important, moreover, that they have the authority to brief the media on tactical operations and to exercise some measure of control over those operations.

6.          Liaison officers should give journalists advance warning of any police action that might endanger those covering the event so that they can move to a safer location.

7.          If journalists are injured, police should ensure that they are provided with swift and unhindered medical attention.

8.          Police officers should respond promptly to any incident in which members of the public and journalists come under attack from organised gangs, and ensure the perpetrators are arrested.

9.          If journalists have a legitimate complaint against particular officers, the liaison officer should ensure those complaints are investigated in an efficient and transparent manner.

10.      If police officers are found to be negligent in their duty, they should be disciplined, and the results of the investigation made public so that the complainant can be satisfied the case was handled properly.

11.      We acknowledge that everyone is working under extremely stressful conditions, but it is important that frontline police officers remain calm and not overreact to provocation from protesters. When talking to the press, they should make requests in a clear, concise manner and not use insulting and obscene language or make threatening gestures.

We welcome any comments you might have on these suggestions, as well as any thoughts you have on the actions that journalists can take to improve relations with the police. We also encourage you to reach out to other press organisations, such as the Hong Kong Journalists Association, and engage in a meaningful dialogue with them.

We extend once again our open invitation to you and your colleagues to discuss these issues at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club either in a public or a more private setting.

This letter will be made public in the hope that a wider cross-section of media professionals and other stakeholders can engage in this important discussion and offer their own insights.

Yours sincerely,

 

 

 

Jodi Schneider

President, on behalf of the Board of Governors and Press Freedom Committee of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong. 

 

2019812

 

致香港警務處處長盧偉聰的公開信

 

盧局長 台鑒:

 

6月份反引渡法案示威活動開始以來,香港外國記者會一直非常關注警方與媒體關係的惡化。而810-11日在全市多個地方的暴力升級特別令人關注。

雖然警方透過舉行定期新聞發佈會來提高透明度,不過我們認為最緊迫的問題涉及一些前線人員的行爲,以及他們與負責報導抗議活動的媒體之間的互動。記者不應干涉警察工作,同時警察也不應故意妨礙或阻止記者工作。考慮到這點,本會提供以下具體建議予以參考: 

1.     警務人員應避免用强光直接照向新聞攝影師。

2.     警方應該假設那些穿著明顯標有“Press”或“記者”背心和頭盔的人是記者,而不是冒名的頂替者。香港政府沒有發行官方記者證的,所以記者只能提供由其雇主或附屬組織發行的證件。

3.     警方在使用催淚時應該更加克制。在居民住宅釋放過多催淚主要受害者是居民,旁觀者,報導示威活動的記者以及抗議人士。在2019812日晚上在葵芳地鐵站內發射催淚彈的舉動尤其過分及構成嚴重的健康損害

4.     警務人員應盡可能確保其身份證明放在顯眼的地方,並在有需要時出示其委任証明。我們理解很多警員都擔心可能會受到攻擊,或個人私穩被發布,但警務人員作爲公職人員需要對自己的行為負責。

5.     每個示威地點部署的每個戰術單位都應該嵌入聯絡警官。他們需要有權向媒體簡報戰術行動,並確保這些戰術行動採取一定程度的剋制。

6.     聯絡警官應向記者提前預警,讓他們能在可能危及他們的警察行動發生前能夠移到一個較安全的地方。

7.     記者受傷時,警方應確保他們獲得迅速及不受阻礙的醫療照顧。

8.     警察應盡快回應任何公眾和記者受到有組織幫派襲擊的事件,並確保肇事者被捕。

9.     如果記者對任何官員作出合法投訴,警方應確保以有效和透明的方式調查這些投訴。

10.   如果發現警察疏忽職守,他們應該受到紀律處分,公開調查結果,以便投訴人能夠對案件得到妥善處理感到滿意。

11.   本會承認每個人都在極度緊張的條件下工作,但重要的是前線警察要保持冷靜,不要對示威者的挑釁做出過度反應。在與媒體交談時,他們應該以清晰,簡潔的方式提出要求,不要使用侮辱性和淫穢語言或做出威脅性的姿勢。

本會歡迎您就這些建議發表任何意見,以及您對記者為改善與警方關係所採取的行動所持的任何想法。我們也歡迎您與其他新聞機構聯繫,例如香港記者協會,並與他們進行有意義的對話。

本會再次邀請您和同僚與外國記者會公開或在比較私人的場合下討論這些問題。 

此信是公開的因爲本會希望廣泛的傳媒專業人士和其他持份者可以參與這一重要討論,並提供自己的見解。

此致

  

 Jodi Schneider

主席,代表香港外國記者會董事局及新聞自由委員會



Human Rights Press Awards

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The Human Rights Press Awards are run by the FCC, Amnesty International Hong Kong, and the Hong Kong Journalists Association. The 23rd annual awards were held on May 16, 2019, in a ceremony at the FCC. See this year’s winners.


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