claims press freedom in Hong Kong is "being dismantled" and calls for international action to protect journalists
April 26, 2022
A new report by Hong Kong Watch finds that press freedom in Hong Kong is “dire” and calls on the international community to step up its monitoring of the situation, speak out against violations of press freedom and freedom of expression and provide a lifeline to journalists at risk of arrest in the city.
The report – In the Firing Line: The Crackdown on Media Freedom in Hong Kong – was launched on 26 April at an event in the House of Commons hosted by Catherine West MP, Shadow Minister for Asia and a Patron of Hong Kong Watch. A panel including the distinguished journalist and broadcaster Stephen Vines, who lived in Hong Kong for 35 years before leaving last year, along with former Ming Pao reporter Matthew Leung, Reporters Without Borders’ Campaigns Officer Azzurra Moores and the report’s author, Hong Kong Watch’s Chief Executive Benedict Rogers, discussed the report findings at the event.
Based on first-hand interviews with over 10 journalists from Hong Kong now in exile, as well as reports by all the leading Hong Kong and global press freedom organisations, Hong Kong Watch’s new report details a variety of ways in which the Hong Kong authorities have curtailed press freedom in the city, ranging from police violence against media workers to police raids of newsrooms, from the closure of independent media outlets to the management shake-up at the public broadcasters Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK), from draconian laws leading to the arrest of reporters and editors to the weaponization of visas for foreign correspondents and restrictions on access to public records.
The report presents a range of recommendations for governments around the world, including a call to issue emergency travel documents and visas to Hong Kong journalists at risk of arrest, and continued punitive measures to pressure the Hong Kong government to uphold guarantees for a free press which are enshrined in Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law.
Stephen Vines, a former correspondent for The Observer, contributor to The Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Independent and The Guardian and a former broadcaster on RTHK, says in his Foreword that “this report meticulously documents the way in which media freedom has been destroyed” and argues that “exposing the way in which the Chinese dictatorship behaves when it has the opportunity to destroy freedom serves as a vital reminder to the rest of the world of the dangers posed by the Communist regime as it spreads its influence in the international community.”
Benedict Rogers, Chief Executive of Hong Kong Watch and author of the report, says: “Press freedom is a fundamental pillar of any free, open society. As someone who began my career in 1997 as a young journalist in Hong Kong, I always regarded the freedom of the press in Hong Kong as one of the city’s greatest assets. Today, it has been almost completely dismantled, as this comprehensive report details, and it is time for the international community to act to ensure that we help brave journalists who continue to take risks to do their jobs in Hong Kong, and to ensure that those responsible for dismantling Hong Kong’s press freedom face consequences and are not allowed to get away with impunity.”
Click here to read the full report.