The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong condemns the efforts by police officers to obstruct press coverage of protests over the weekend, particularly during a tense and violent standoff at Polytechnic University.
The FCC considers this a serious breach of press freedom and the right of the media under Hong Kong law to cover the protests free of intimidation or violence.
First-hand reports from journalists covering the standoff between police and anti-government protesters and students at PolyU relayed accounts of journalists being barred from free entry and exit. Some journalists were searched and asked for their identification as they left, amid police warnings that they could be arrested if they didn’t provide a valid press ID.
In other instances, journalists were barred from entering the university and told if they entered they would be subject to riot charges. In one case, three student reporters from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology tried to leave the campus grounds through an exit suggested by the police and were instructed not to leave or they would risk being fired upon.
The FCC also calls on the police to conduct a thorough investigation of a police officer who allegedly targeted a journalist in Mong Kok this weekend with a sponge grenade. Police said the officer was put on leave and that they are investigating the incident.
We again call for an independent investigation into police violence against journalists and any interference with the media’s right under Hong Kong law to cover the unrest. The FCC urges that any investigation should be transparent.
Nov. 18, 2019