IFJ Calls on China to Order Police Respect for Journalists

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) calls on China’s Minister for Public Security, Meng Jianzhu, to ensure local, provincial and metropolitan authorities and law enforcement agencies respect the rights of local and foreign media personnel to conduct their work, following an increase in attacks on the media in recent months.

In an article published in the Chinese language Apple Daily today, the IFJ condemns the hostile attitude of police and government authorities toward the media and journalists, saying such hostility has been evident through the past 60 years of China’s political history as journalists continue to be treated as trouble makers, instigators of civil disturbances, or spies.

Since July and in the lead-up to China’s National Day today, journalists from Hong Kong and Japan have joined local media personnel in reporting to the IFJ physical and verbal abuse by police in China. Victims of such attacks regularly report the attackers were believed to be police in plain clothes or people directed by the police to intimidate journalists.

China’s Police Ordinance states that all police officers are required to exercise their duties to protect civilians and the wider society. The Ordinance also explicitly orders police not to lie or fabricate evidence or to use force without reasonable grounds.

However, many police personnel disregard these requirements, and higher authorities do not take action to resolve their subordinates’ disregard for the law.

The use of violence and other efforts to discredit journalists in order to enforce silence contravenes China’s laws and undermines the promises of China’s Central Government to provide greater freedoms – including freedom of expression – for the people of China.

The IFJ calls on the Minister for Public Security to show genuine commitment and authority in taking up the responsibility to educate and inform government personnel, including the police and security officials, to understand and respect the role of the media in reporting freely and in the public interest.

The IFJ respectfully reminds Minister Meng that efforts by the police under his direct or indirect command to intimidate and harass media personnel violate the principles of the National Human Rights Action Plan of China (2009-2010), in which the Central Government has made a commitment to make all effort to provide the public with access to information.

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