The Hong Kong Journalists Association has raised concerns over the police use of media reports in a dossier used to justify a potential ban on the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party.
Last Tuesday, police officers delivered a set of documents to the convenor of the embattled party Andy Chan. The dossier contained more than 700-pages detailing the media comments, social media posts and movements of Chan and his fellow party members. Enclosed was a letter from the Secretary for Security recommending that the authorities prohibit the operation of HKNP. As per the Societies Ordinance, the Secretary for Security will give the group an opportunity to make its case within 21 days.
In a statement on Saturday, the HKJA said it was concerned the inclusion of media reports would have an adverse effect on press freedom: “We are worried whether media organisations will be deemed as participating [in] unlawful activities if they report [on] those organisations and their representatives after they are being banned and declared as illegal societies.”
The association also said that it was worried media organisations would be liable to criminal charges if they report on such activities: “We urge the Security Bureau to make clarification promptly in order to allay the concerns of journalists. We maintain freedom of the press and expression should not be undermined when the Government invokes laws, including the Societies Ordinances, regardless of the circumstances.”
Chief Executive Carrie Lam has been unable to guarantee that Hong Kong media covering pro-independence comments will not be liable to legal action.
“[I]t will depend on the situation, depend on the law, depend on that particular behaviour,” Lam told reporters in April.