FCC statement expressing grave concern over reports of police violence against journalists in Hong Kong
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club expresses grave concern over multiple eyewitness reports and widely circulating video footage that show police officers engaging in violent acts against journalists during the protest in Kwai Chung on Tuesday night.
The reports and video appear to show a photojournalist being shoved to the ground, reporters being chased by police officers swinging batons and police discharging pepper spray toward reporters and photographers with press identification who were observing and photographing events from a safe distance and who appeared not to be interfering with police operations. At least one journalist reportedly needed hospital treatment after being hit with pepper spray.
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 to ignore. 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 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.