Open letter to Carrie Lam
Paris, July 25, 2019
Madam chief executive,
Reporters Without Borders, an international organization defending freedom of information, is extremely alarmed by the current climate of violence against journalists in Hong Kong.
During the mass demonstrations over the past two months, police and pro-Beijing demonstrators have attacked journalists on numerous occasions. Violence culminated on Sunday last week at the Yuen Long MTR station when mobsters viciously attacked civilians, including journalists, while law enforcement looked the other way.
In a report published on July 7, the Hong Kong Journalists Association deplored “one of the worst years” for journalists since the handover and denounced “a deliberate policy” to restrict journalistic freedoms.
In the RSF World Press Freedom Index, Hong Kong’s ranking has plummeted from 18th in 2002 to 73rd this year.
We urge you to take immediate and proactive action in order to reverse this decline and ensure the full enforcement of freedom of the press, a right that is spelled out in the Basic Law and of which it is your duty as the chief executive to uphold.
We suggest focusing on five key points:
1. Unequivocally withdraw the extradition bill, which is widely feared to pose a major threat to journalists and their sources in Hong Kong.
2. Ensure that law enforcement refrain from any violence or coercion against journalists and protect them anytime their safety is threatened.
3. Ensure that those who call for, order, perpetrate or glorify violent acts against journalists are being prosecuted and punished; establish an independent commission to investigate brutality acts.
4. Enforce the highest level of transparency on public affairs for the media.
5. Give clear instructions to all members of the Hong Kong administration to support freedom of the press and facilitate the work of journalists by all means.
We are convinced that these five measures, if set up under your mandate, would contribute to reinforcing the trust between Hong Kong residents and the administration and strengthening the international prestige of Hong Kong.
Our association would be happy to put its expertise at your service so that your administration can get the quickest and most effective results implementing our proposals.
Please accept, Madam Chief Executive, the assurances of my highest consideration,
Reporters Without Borders
Fake news and free speech
The article “Most say ‘fake news’ not free speech, poll shows” (July 20, page 3 ), serves to focus attention on one important aspect of a democratic society: citizens’ right to information. And it also emphasizes the absolute importance of the individual’s responsibility to verify where the information that they receive comes from.
Ours is a complicated world today. Anyone, anywhere, can present what they wish others to believe on multiple platforms that have the ability to reach and inform (or misinform) literally thousands.
The responsibility now falls on the shoulders of each and every one of us to verify the truthfulness of what we see or hear.
As a semi-retired college professor, I have cautioned my students for decades to not take what they read or hear in the media at face value: “If what you read or hear doesn’t ‘feel’ right, double-check it. Use other sources — other news media outlets, for example — to verify the truthfulness or accuracy of the information.”
I truly hope that citizens of all countries will ultimately take this advice to heart. Don’t just blissfully accept what your “favorite” broadcast or print medium says. Check it out!
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