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Wednesday, Aug 17, 2022

Human rights awards scrapped amid calls to safeguard freedom of press

Human rights awards scrapped amid calls to safeguard freedom of press

This year's Human Rights Press Awards will be canceled to avoid the "unintentional violation" of any laws, the Foreign Correspondents' Club announced yesterday.
The club's president and head of the University of Hong Kong's journalism school, Keith Richburg, said the awards - originally scheduled for May 3 - had been suspended given "significant areas of uncertainty."

He added: "This was a very tough decision to reach. We explored a variety of other options but could not find a feasible way forward."

The decision was made - according to Reuters citing sources - to shield the club's staff and members from the legal risks of presenting four awards and five merits to the pan-democratic media outlet Stand News, which shut down in December after several of its editors were held for sedition.

The decision to cancel the awards also prompted the resignation of eight members from the club's press freedom committee, sources added.

Earlier in the day, Hong Kong Journalists Association chairman Ronson Chan Ron-sing said the SAR's press freedoms remain fragile and require safeguarding.

Chan's comments came after sole chief executive candidate John Lee Ka-chiu said on Sunday that freedom of the press "exists" and does not need to be "safeguarded." Chan disagreed with this, noting the state of the city's press freedoms is similar to the state of its judicial independence - it exists but requires protection.

He added that members attending a HKJA meeting on Saturday discussed whether the 54-year-old association should disband.

As long as the association can remain fair in the face of mounting political pressure, Chan contended, it should not disband.

That came as Chung Kim-wah, deputy chief executive of the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute, took to Facebook on Sunday to announce he had left the city for the United Kingdom.

Chung said he did not wish to worry his family by staying in Hong Kong, a concern that became more pressing last year after officers invited Chung to assist with the investigation of 47 politicians and activists charged with subversion.

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