Former director of Hong Kong’s public prosecutions on Sunday voiced support for the police’s move to amend front-line rules for the media, saying the amendment is “legitimate” and “necessary”.
Grenville Cross, also a senior counsel, told China Daily that the new policy has nothing to do with press freedom as the accreditation system is all about weeding out fake journalists who are not qualified to perform the duty of reporting to the public.
It makes very good sense for the system to be reformed to ensure that only people who are genuine journalists are accredited; this is done in order to weed out the fake journalists whose activities have sometimes imperiled the work of the real journalists, and who are pursuing their own interests under the guise of journalism and thereby bringing its good name into disrepute
Grenville Cross, former director of Hong Kong’s public prosecutions
The Hong Kong Police Force announced on Tuesday it would only take in government-registered news media, and “internationally recognized and renowned” foreign media to perform their duties in restricted areas and the force’s press briefings.
Media representatives from non-registered local media and journalist associations are no longer recognized by the police, but they can still cover events in public areas.
The amendment came after the city saw fake reporters — some of whom were child reporters — emerge at several protest sites and obstruct police operations since June last year.
“The present accreditation system is being abused,” said Cross, while referring to fake journalists — who received no proper journalistic training — entering cordoned-off areas and ended up getting involved in conflicts with the police, or helping those arrested to escape.
“It makes very good sense for the system to be reformed to ensure that only people who are genuine journalists are accredited; this is done in order to weed out the fake journalists whose activities have sometimes imperiled the work of the real journalists, and who are pursuing their own interests under the guise of journalism and thereby bringing its good name into disrepute,” he said.
Press freedom is protected by both the Basic Law and the HK Bill of Rights, he added.
The former public prosecutor pointed out that a proper accreditation system also protects the legitimate journalists who are covering particular events because their position will be recognized and they’ll be allowed to go about their business without any suspicion over their credentials.
“So, it is a win-win situation,” he concluded.
Also on Sunday, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung also threw his weight behind the police’s move, emphasizing the amendment would have no impact on press freedom.
In a blog post, Cheung said the new policy was launched to allow genuine journalists to enter areas that are normally off-limits under feasible circumstances, in order to facilitate their jobs to report to the public.
Press freedom has been long recognized and valued by the Hong Kong government as it is one of the core values and advantages of the city, Cheung wrote.
So far, 206 local and foreign media have been registered with the Government News and Media Information System, over 30 of which are internet-based.
HONG KONG NEWS