Hong Kong press watchdogs have condemned the police over insults and “malicious jostling” of journalists during a clearance operation of protesters on Sunday night.
Hundreds occupied parts of Nathan Road in Mong Kok for hours after a protest outside the high-speed rail’s West Kowloon Terminus drew to a close.
The Hong Kong Journalists Association and the Hong Kong Press Photographers Association said in a joint statement that when police tried to clear the protesters, officers used their shields to push journalists and their cameras multiple times. Some also shouted at and assaulted reporters, according to the statement.
The two unions said most reporters on scene wore vests with “press” printed on them, carried press passes on them and identified themselves as journalists. They added that despite following police instructions to step away from the front line, journalists faced “malicious jostling” from the police: “We strongly condemn the incident,” the unions wrote in the joint statement.
In a case cited by both unions, a photojournalist for online news outlet HK01 was filming a dispute on Canton Road when the reporter was elbowed in the abdomen by a plainclothes officer in police vest. The photojournalist tried to ask the officer why she assaulted them but she denied doing so before retreating behind her colleagues.
The two unions said a member from the police media liaison team apologised to the photojournalist, saying he could file a complaint using existing mechanisms.
HKFP_Live: Police have confronted anti-extradition law protesters along Nathan Road following a demonstration at the China express rail terminal.
Posted by Hong Kong Free Press HKFP on Sunday, 7 July 2019
Another case cited in the joint statement involved a female Apply Daily photojournalist who was jostled by a police officer. The officer claimed the photojournalist had physically assaulted him, but when she denied doing so, the police officer was pulled away by his colleagues. The two unions said the name and number of the officer’s police ID card were concealed from sight.
According to the Police General Orders, a police officer shall carry their warrant card on them at all times provided his or her intended activities are compatible with its display. An officer in plain-clothes, when dealing with members of the public and exercising police powers, whether on or off duty, shall identify his or herself and produce a warrant card.
In a third case cited, a Metro Radio journalist was blocked by officers when filming. The journalist was allegedly told by an officer: “Journalists have no privileges. You have to move when I tell you to.”
【有市民質疑警員身份 警員高呼：警察執行職務時，係唔需要展示委任證！】全文：https://bit.ly/2JjQC8w晚上近11時警方清場，在旺角彌敦道以「包抄」方式前後包圍示威者，現場多次爆發衝突。《立場新聞》拍攝到，有身穿便衣的警員，戴頭盔、持圓盾參與清場行動，並沒展示警員編號或委任證。有市民質疑他的身份時，該警員高呼：「警察執行職務時，係唔需要展示委任證！」【7.7 九龍大遊行】警方防線節節後退 示威者佔據廣東道【https://bit.ly/2NDvoq3】微博現遊行照片 大陸網民反應兩極【https://bit.ly/2JjLjFW】黑衣人潮湧尖沙咀 高鐵站一帶設大量水馬【https://bit.ly/2xAaEVs】大陸旅客接反送中傳單 「想了解香港發生甚麼事」【https://bit.ly/2XOBSXe】劉穎匡：不會衝擊高鐵站 遊行原則「和平、理性、優雅」【https://bit.ly/32cXPhR】英國遊客參與遊行 撐港人爭取民主【https://bit.ly/2Xyergl】設回收站亦被截查 市民：警員接近神經質【https://bit.ly/2xAdqtQ】警方終點大搜查 要示威者除口罩出示身份證【https://bit.ly/2XslWdM】西九站僅供持票乘客進入 《立場》記者採訪被逐【https://bit.ly/2FW9k3C】港鐵：即時停售高鐵中午至晚上所有車票【https://bit.ly/2FVdFnF】
Posted by Stand News 立場新聞 on Sunday, 7 July 2019
The two unions said similar acts against journalists had repeatedly occurred during recent protests.
“We hope the police to reflect on the issue, to respect the right for media to report, to defend press freedom and to protect the public’s right to know,” they said.
HKFP witnessed a police officer scolding a student reporter from the University of Hong Kong (HKU) saying that he was “not a journalist.” The reporter was then told to leave the scene.
When HKFP asked an officer in charge of media relations about the incident, she said the HKU student news outlet was “not a recognised organisation.”
HKFP also saw uniformed officers questioning a Citizen News reporter, despite her press credentials being on display.
The reporter showed her press card to police officers, but an officer replied: “Where is your company’s office? What is Citizen News?”
Missing warrant cards
According to footage broadcasted live on social media, several police officers did not visibly carry warrant cards. In one clip, a plainclothes officer who wore a police helmet and carried a baton and shield did not display any identity documents.
When asked by protesters to show his police warrant card, the officer said: “When police are exercising their duties, we do not have to show warrant cards.”
Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting, a former Independent Commission Against Corruption investigator, told reporters Monday that every police officer should show their warrant cards.
“The point of showing their id cards is to prove they are police officers and they must be responsible for their behaviours so that we can seek responsibility if there are any cases of abuse of power,” Lam said.
- University of Hong Kong appoints mainland professors as vice-presidents amid concerns over academic freedom
- Hong Kong shopping mall responds to criticism of racy cartoon billboards with ‘updated’ racy cartoons
- EXCLUSIVE: Only 17% of Hongkongers approve of proposal to allow HK election voting in China despite Lam claim – HKFP-PORI poll