SOPA statement on violence against journalists covering the Hong Kong protests

Journalists covering Hong Kong’s protests over the last four months have been operating in increasingly difficult and dangerous circumstances.   In many cases, these journalists are the employees of our member companies.  Publishers contribute significantly to Hong Kong’s economy both in direct employment and the wider services we provide to the finance, logistics and other pillar industries and we expect the Hong Kong authorities to provide a safe working environment for our employees.

There have been numerous reports of violence against frontline media representatives, including reporters variously obstructed, insulted, harassed and injured by police or by protesters from both the pro- and anti-government camps.

An Indonesian journalist was wounded in her eye on Sunday as a result of what appears to have been a projectile fired by a police officer.  There have been reports of journalists suffering from the use of tear gas and pepper spray by police, being struck with batons, having their lenses blocked and being obstructed while identifying themselves as media representatives.  There have also been assaults on journalists perpetrated by protesters.  These matters must be fully investigated.

The Society of Publishers in Asia condemns violence against journalists.  The role of publishers and the wider media in providing the public with accurate information about the protests is of great importance.  With more protests planned,  police and protesters must ensure press freedom is protected and that journalists are able to operate freely and safely.