Hong Kong has fallen seven places in the latest World Press Freedom Index to 80th, with Reporters Without Borders (RSF) citing many acts of violence against the media during last year's anti-government protests.
The rankings compiled by RSF also flagged up pressure resulting in the "retreat" of press freedom, and cited the expulsion of the vice-president of the Foreign Correspondents' Club, Victor Mallet, in 2018.
Cedric Alviani, the head of the organisation's East Asia Bureau said the drop in the rankings was a "direct result of the policy of violence against journalists that was led by the executive and the police during the demonstrations", and said he expected Hong Kong's press freedom ranking to drop even further.
Alviani noted that while it was still possible for journalists in Hong Kong to do their work, it is now becoming harder for reporters to receive transparent information.
He said the Hong Kong authorities are "consistently showing an unwillingness to answer certain questions from journalists during press conferences", and also there is a tendency of the government to prioritise the "interests of the mainland Chinese regime" over press freedom.
“When Reporters Without Borders created the World Press Freedom Index in year 2002, Hong Kong was 18th. This has been a long and consistent downfall, and unfortunately, we have every reason to believe that the downfall is going to continue," he said.
Alviani also noted there has been a general decline in press freedom worldwide, and said governments cannot claim that censorship is an internal issue.
“Censorship in China, and we see it with coronavirus, can have a direct impact all around the world. It is a global problem that has to be tackled by the global community," he said.
“So more than ever the world needs accurate information, more than ever the world needs circulation of information so that the proper decisions could be made."
Alviani told RTHK's Richard Pyne that the coronavirus crisis has shown that free information may prove to be a "matter of life and death".