World Press Freedom Day – Nothing could be further from the truth

Hong Kong’s Press Freedom Is In Dire Straits

The United Nations designates May 3rd each year as “World Press Freedom Day”. Meanwhile, the non-profit international organisation Reporters Without Borders (RSF) released its 2024 World Press Freedom Index on this very day, titled “Journalists under Political Pressure”. Although Hong Kong’s ranking has slightly improved by 5 places, moving from 140th last year to 135th out of 180 countries and regions, the overall score has dropped from 44.86 to 43.06.

The Hong Kong Media Overseas (HKMO) urged the international society to continue monitoring the situation of the city’s press freedom, particularly in terms of the impact of the newly enacted Article 23 under the Basic Law on media outlets, both domestic and international, as well as the safety of journalists and those who are imprisoned.

The charges against Jimmy Lai, the founder of Next Media and Apple Daily, illustrate how the HKSAR is utilising the legal framework to criminalise the normal practice of journalism as subversive. In the long-standing trial of the Hong Kong independent media outlet Stand News, which has stretched on for nearly two years, the verdict has once again been postponed. As of today, 10 journalists are either detained or imprisoned.

Joseph Ngan, the Chairman of HKMO, stated that the chilling effect of Article 23 and the National Security Law is real, judging from the increasing number of international media outlets relocating out of Hong Kong. For instance, the Wall Street Journal announced its decision to move its headquarters from Hong Kong to Singapore.

“The decision of well-known international media outlets, such as Radio Free Asia and The Wall Street Journal, to evacuate from Hong Kong indicates their concerns for the safety of their reporters. This suggests that the existence of press freedom in Hong Kong is now in question.”

The HKMO will continue advocating for the release of Jimmy Lai and other imprisoned journalists. Additionally, HKMO has compiled a dossier titled “Hong Kong’s War on Journalism: The Persecution of Jimmy Lai and Apple Daily” as a source of reference. This dossier details the relentless nature of the persecution and tracks the developments of the case for media outlets around the globe. For a detailed report, please refer to the link below.