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第25屆人權新聞獎得主聯署聲明︰呼籲各界尊重及以行動守護新聞自由


香港新聞自由正面臨前所未見的衝擊,新聞工作者履行第四權天職變得舉步維艱。我們有幸成為第25屆人權新聞獎得主,謹藉此機會表達對當前形勢的憂慮,呼籲各界尊重及以行動守護新聞自由。

過去一年,香港言論空間急速緊縮,劇變的政治氣候惹來人權退倒的憂慮。無國界記者最新的新聞自由指數顯示,香港排名處於歷史低位。新聞界經歷多次史前無例的動盪,當局自行修改「傳媒代表」定義,大規模搜查新聞機構。近日,政權更製造輿論指稱有媒體報導為煽動行為,所謂「假新聞」立法來勢洶洶。

本屆人權新聞獎得主之一《鏗鏘集》團隊藉查冊找出「721事件」的線索,記者蔡玉玲追尋真相卻成為庭上被告,多個傳媒查冊的渠道被政府收緊權限甚至近乎封殺。香港電台記者奪得本屆多個新聞獎項,諷刺地其中一名得獎者利君雅不獲續聘;港台更聲言退賽和拒絕領獎,並肆意抽起節目及刪除網上存庫的紀錄。新聞界動輒得咎。凡此種種不僅威脅新聞工作者免於恐懼的自由,隨恐懼而來的自我審查愈趨惡化,最終削弱公眾知情權和監督權。

新聞自由與人權的關係密不可分。《世界人權宣言》及《公民權利和政治權利國際公約》第19條訂明每個人也有自由發表意見的權利;隨之制定的《香港人權法案條例》第16條具體列明,當中權利包括「以語言、文字或出版物、藝術或自己選擇之其他方式尋求、接受和傳遞各種消息和思想的自由」。新聞自由,正是表達自由的體現:新聞工作者可以自由地傳遞訊息,公眾自由地尋求和接收不同思想。

坊間不時有言論稱,「記者無特權」或「新聞自由非絕對」。然而,香港憲制及法例給予新聞工作者享有與一般公眾稍有不同的待遇,乃因應傳媒發揮第四權代表公眾監察掌權者,從而賦予「保障」,而非「特權」;甚或港府屢屢提及要擁護的《基本法》,當中第27條亦強調新聞自由。這類保障是源自對於人權的尊重。

新聞工作者走在前線記錄歷史,在如今的社會氣候下,我們無法獨善其身,更是首當其衝,業界狀況正是香港人權狀況倒退的縮影。我們要求政府停止阻礙前線記者工作,並呼籲社會各界支持在各個崗位努力的同業,持續關注相關報導。香港曾經自由的土壤孕育了一代又一代傳媒人,薪火相傳以說真話為志業。惟盼在寒冬之下,新聞界與公眾共同守護真相,合力撐著僅餘的一片天。願真理在胸筆在手,無私無畏即自由。

*此聲明由人權新聞獎得主以個人名義發出,與其任職機構及主辦單位無關。

截至2021年5月6日下午8:00,共有56名人權新聞獎得主及「一群無法以實名簽署的記者」
參與聯署。詳細名單請參閱:https://forms.gle/qjs2PXebiyaecC3o7 。歡迎歷屆人權新聞獎得主加入,新增聯署者將於Google Form更新。

May 6, 2021
【The 25th Human Rights Press Awards Winners' Joint Statement】

Freedom of the press in Hong Kong is facing unprecedented challenges. Journalists are having a difficult time fulfilling their fourth estate. We are honored to be the winners of the 25th Human Rights Press Awards. We would like to take this opportunity to express our concerns about the current situation in Hong Kong and call on all sectors to respect and act to protect press freedom.

Over the past year, the space for freedom of expression has been rapidly shrinking. The dramatic change in the political climate has led to fears of human rights regression. The latest Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index shows that Hong Kong ranks at a historic low. The press is now experiencing unprecedented turbulence. The authorities have tightened the definition of “media representative” without prior consultation and have conducted massive raids on news organizations. Recently the authorities accused some media reports of sedition, in an attempt to mould public opinion into its agenda of enacting new laws against so-called “fake news”.

One of the winners of this year's Human Rights Press Awards, the team from RTHK's Hong Kong Connection, found clues about the 721 Yuen Long Attack through the public registry, but the journalist who pursued the truth, Bao Choy, became a defendant in court. RTHK won several awards at this year's Human Rights Press Awards, ironically, one of the award-winning staff, Nabela Qoser, didn't get her contract extended. RTHK even allegedly rejected the awards and withdrew entries from competitions. The public broadcaster also arbitrarily pulled down several episodes from their programs and deleted archives from its online platforms. All these moves not only threaten freedom but also create fear. With fear comes worsening self-censorship, hence, weakening the public's right to know and monitor.

Freedom of the press and human rights are inextricably linked. Article 19 of both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that everyone has the right to freedom of expression; Article 16 of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance, which is enacted based on the Covenant, specifically states that this right includes “freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, in the form of speech, writing, publication, art, or by any other means of one's choice”. Right to freedom of expression manifests in press freedom, in which journalists are free to transmit information, and the public is free to seek and receive different ideas.

From time to time, some claimed that "journalists have no privilege" or "press freedom is not absolute". Indeed, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution and legal provisions endowed journalists with special status. It is the role of the fourth estate to monitor those in power on behalf of the public entitles the press to different treatments. The press is granted "protection" rather than "privilege." The Basic Law, to which the Hong Kong government has repeatedly referred, emphasizes freedom of the press in its Article 27. Such protection comes from respect for human rights.

Journalists are at the forefront of documenting history. In today's social climate, we cannot stand alone but are the first to come under pressure. We urge the government to stop obstructing the work of frontline journalists, and call on all sectors of the community to support the press in various positions and to keep an eye on the relevant reports. The once free soil of Hong Kong has nurtured generations of journalists who have dedicated themselves to truth-telling. We hope that the press and the public will join hands to protect the truth in the bitter winter and to safeguard the remaining free space. With a pen in hand and the truth in our hearts, may the freedom from fear and favour prevail.

*This statement is issued by the winners of the Human Rights Press Awards in his or her own name and is not affiliated with his or her organization or the organizers of the award.

As of 8:00 pm on May 6, 2021, there are a total of 56 Human Right Press Awards winners and “a group of journalists whose names cannot be disclosed” co-signed the joint statement. For a detailed list, please refer to: https://forms.gle/qjs2PXebiyaecC3o7. All previous Human Rights Press Awards winners are welcome to join, and new co-signers will be updated on Google Form.


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