Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is appalled by the Hong Kong court decision to convict investigative journalist Bao Choy of making alleged “false statements” whilst working on an award winning documentary for public media group Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK).
On 22nd April, Bao Choy (real name Choy Yuk Ling) was convicted for making false statements by the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts and fined HK$ 6,000 (about €650). She was accused of accessing the vehicle registration database in her efforts to obtain information whilst doing research for an award winning documentary which highlighted police inaction during a 2019 mob attack that targeted pro-democracy demonstrators in the district of Yuen Long.
“Bao Choy was only doing her job and collecting information in the public’s interest and should never have been prosecuted, let alone convicted and fined”, says Cédric Alviani, RSF East Asia bureau head. “The fact that a journalistic investigation could become a punishable offence highlights the extent of the recent decline in press freedom in Hong Kong.”
Last week, Jimmy Lai, 73, founder of Next Digital press group and its flagship newspaper Apple Daily and 2020 RSF Press Freedom Awards laureate, was sentenced to a total of one year and two months in prison taking part in two “unauthorised” protests. Lai faces six other procedures for which he risks up to a life sentence.
Hong Kong, once a bastion of press freedom, has fallen from 18th place in 2002 to 80th place in the newly-released 2021 RSF World Press Freedom Index. The People’s Republic of China, for its part, has stagnated at 177th out of 180.
Image Credit: PETER PARKS / AFP