As the protest against the government’s extradition bill continues in Hong Kong, there have been many cases of abuse from police against journalists, according to a recent report.
The Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) stated in a press release on June 17 that it has conducted interviews with 26 journalists, who provided either photographic or video evidence to support their claims of abuse from certain police officers during incidents that played out from June 10 and June 14.
“Those abuses have not only caused journalists bodily harm but also infringed upon the press freedoms enshrined in the Basic Law,” the press release stated.
There were ten cases of police officers firing tear gas at journalists at close range. Among the ten cases, three journalists had been hit at the head.
Video of one of the ten cases has now been widely shared on social media, in which an unnamed French journalist intervened to prevent the police from firing more tear gas at journalists. According to the press release, the incident took place at the Harcourt Road overpass around 5 to 6 p.m. local time on June 12.
Another incident took place outside the gate of the Hong Kong government complex at around 4:50 p.m. local time on June 12. The police threw tear gas on journalists when there was not a single protester close by.
In another three cases, journalists were chased by police and hit with batons resulting in either physical harm or property loss. According to the press release, one case involved a journalist being hit on the elbow by a police baton, after having repeatedly identified himself as a reporter. The incident took place at Admiralty Road near Justice Drive around 10 p.m. local time on June 12. Another journalist was also injured by an object believed to be either a rubber bullet or bean bag.
There were also eight cases where journalists were unable to carry out their duties after being pushed away by police officers wielding shields and batons. Police were also reported in two instances to have shone bright lights at camera crews, making filming impossible.
Three journalists said they were subjected to a police search for which no reasons were given. They were then obstructed from reporting.
“The Association has therefore sufficient reasons to believe that those abusive officers were fully aware of their journalists’ identity. By directing forces and intimidation at persons clearly identifiable as journalists, these officers have overstepped [their] lawful powers in maintaining public order,” the press release stated.
HKJA called on embattled Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam to set up an independent committee to “ascertain whether [a] top-level order was the cause of these wide-spread and violent abuses.”
HKJA stated that it has complained to the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC), requesting an investigation.
Hong Kong has adopted a two-tier police complaints system—consisting of the IPCC, a civilian body, and the Complaints Against Police Office (CAPO), a unit within the Hong Kong Police Force. The role of the IPCC is to monitor, review, and put forward recommendations regarding complaints against the police filed at CAPO.