Hong Kong’s media personnel faced unprecedented attacks over the past year, adding to the concerns over threats to press freedom in the city, the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) said.
The association said it documented 30 cases involving injuries to journalists in the past year, especially during the 79-day Occupy movement.
In some cases, police treated journalists with disdain and made false accusations against those who were attempting to report on the pro-democracy campaign, it said.
It has been a year in which media workers faced the most serious risks as they faced both protesters and the police during the Occupy movement as well as during other incidents, including the “localist” demonstrations, the HKJA said in an annual report released Sunday.
“I have been in the industry for 30 years and have never seen a year with so many reporters being attacked. This is very sad,” HKJA chairperson Sham Yee-lan said.
Reflection the general perception among both the public and journalists that press freedom was deteriorating, a HKJA survey has revealed that the Hong Kong Press Freedom Index has fallen compared to the previous annual poll.
The index stood at 48.8, down 0.6 point from a year earlier, based on feedback from more than 1,000 members of the public, according to DBC Hong Kong and i-Cable.
The association also polled more than 500 journalists, who scored the press freedom level at 38.9 out of 100, down 3.1 points from the previous survey.
Journalists were particularly worried about self-censorship and the attitude of government officials towards the media.
Press freedom locally has fallen into a dark era, the association said.
Protesters who are not satisfied with media reports should voice their complaints through normal channels rather than assault the journalists, HKJA said.
Meanwhile, it urged the government to take all possible measures to ensure that journalists are able to carry out their legitimate reporting duties, especially during protests.
In other comments, the association called on the government and the central government’s liaison office to dispel fears in society about the possible use of China’s new national security law to limit press freedom in Hong Kong.
Authorities must enhance transparency by enacting freedom of information and other laws to ensure that Hong Kong residents, including journalists, have proper access to government information and documents, HKJA added.
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