Press freedom unhindered, Matthew Cheung assures

Local | 27 Sep 2020 2:15 pm

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, says press freedom will not be undermined by a new police policy of recognizing only journalists from organizations registered with the government, RTHK reports.

In a post on on his official blog, Cheung said the change would help front-line officers separate genuine reporters from people who want to blend into crowds of journalists to hinder police operations. He said journalists doing their job in accordance with the law would not be impeded.

He said press freedom in the SAR was protected by the Basic Law, adding that more than 200 media organizations, including more than 30 online outlets, were registered with the official Government News and Media Information Service.

The police force announced on Tuesday that it would amend the definition of journalists in the police general orders to include only those registered with the government news service or who work for "well known" international media.

Previously, the definition of journalist included anyone with credentials from a local media organization, along with members of two press unions.

The move follows months of complaints from the police about ‘fake reporters’ at protest sites, who they accuse of obstructing police and even attacking them.

A coalition of eight media groups said on Thursday that they were considering a legal challenge to the policy, adding that police had failed to substantiate claims about bogus journalists. Journalism educators expressed alarm that the scheme seemingly excluded student journalists.

Meanwhile, Cheung urged people to remain vigilant and strictly abide by coronavirus regulations ahead of a four-day holiday weekend, which starts on Thursday with the National Day vacation.


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