Journalist groups and media outlets issued a joint statement on Saturday warning that any move to introduce an official accreditation system for reporters would undermine press freedom in Hong Kong and the public's right to know.
The groups, including the Hong Kong Journalists Association, Hong Kong Press Photographers Association and RTHK Programme Staff Union, noted that Chief Executive Carrie Lam has dismissed rumours that the government is considering issuing official press cards.
But they added that they believe speculation regarding such a move "is not groundless" and said Lam has not touched upon the possibility of issuing "other forms of press identification".
"Media play the role of fourth power in the society, monitoring the exercise of power by the government. Any arrangements that allow the government to select journalists through official identification in reporting in public places will no doubt limit the room of freedom of reporting. That will not be conducive to free flow of information and truth-finding," the statement said.
The groups said reporters have been cooperating with the police during operations targeting the ongoing anti-government protests and officers have no trouble in identifying members of the press from their dress, equipment, activities and passes.
"Any arrangement of official identification items for the selection of journalists reporting in public places is unnecessary. More worryingly, such arrangements could be easily abused and turned into a tool for police officers to conduct stop-and-search and drive away reporters," they said.
The groups also warned that the requirements for obtaining official identification could be arbitrarily changed and those denied the accreditation, or who refuse to seek it, would face even more threats and risks during their reporting activities.
Journalists warn against any accreditation move
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