The Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) has condemned the obstruction of journalists at work after a TVB cameraman was driven away by anti-extradition law protesters over alleged bias in the station’s coverage.

The watchdog issued a statement in response to reports that a cameraman filming a rally outside of the Department of Justice on Thursday was harassed by protesters, who accused the TV station of selectively broadcasting news material to favour the police. The HKJA said the man had flashlights shone into his eyes at a short range, was pushed, insulted and driven away by crowds.

TVB anti-extradition rally department of justice
Anti-extradition law protesters hold protest signs at a TVB cameraman (right). One sign (left) reads ‘change the channel’. Photo:

“HKJA emphasises that interviewing and reporting are the duties of a journalist,” the statement read. “If front-line journalists are being disturbed and their reporting work obstructed, freedom of the press will be undermined and the public’s right to know will also be weakened.”

“The situation is getting more and more severe,” it added. “HKJA urges citizens to express opinions rationally and respect journalists’ rights to reporting. They should not obstruct journalists’ reporting work.”

Press freedom

HKJA said the incident impinges on press freedom and undermines the public’s right to information.

The incident came a few days after the watchdog filed a complaint with the Independent Police Complaints Council claiming police had caused bodily harm to 26 journalists during several days of protest against the city’s controversial extradition bill.

The city has been shaken by several weeks of protests sparked by legal amendments proposed in February, which would allow it to handle case-by-case extradition requests from jurisdictions with no prior agreements, such as China. Critics have raised concerns over the risk of residents being extradited to the mainland, which lacks human rights protections.

The bill was suspended on June 15 until further notice, but not withdrawn. The protests have since morphed into a wider public display of discontent over dwindling freedoms, democracy and alleged police brutality.

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Jennifer Creery is a Hong Kong-born British journalist, interested in minority rights and urban planning. She holds a BA in English at King's College London and has studied Mandarin at National Taiwan University.