Hong Kong police attend a Thursday briefing about the arrest of 15 people in connection to the surge in shares of Next Digital. Photo: cnsphoto
Hong Kong police said they will redefine the criteria for "media representatives," who are allowed to cover incidents with police, and that certificates issued by the Hong Kong Journalists Association and Hong Kong Press Photographers Association are no longer applicable.
A letter from Kenneth Kwok, the head of the Police Public Relations Branch, to journalists' groups on Tuesday said that only local media reporters and photographers who have registered in the government's news system or well-known international outlets shall be recognized as media representatives.
Hong Kong media said the new regulation may take effect as soon as Wednesday.
Hong Kong police said that since the social unrest and violence started in June last year, they have found people claiming to be journalists mingling with crowds, obstructing police work and even attacking police.
In May this year, the Hong Kong police media team was expanded to more than 300 members in order to provide adequate on-site support to the media at major public events, media reported.
The police said that the revised definition of "media representatives" would be made much clearer to enable frontline police staff to identify valid reporters more effectively and quickly, so as to facilitate and assist media representatives as much as possible without compromising operational efficiency. It would also assist frontline officers in law enforcement.
Amid the social unrest in 2019, some Hong Kong reporters, "fake journalists" and foreign reporters became accomplices as they hindered police operations in the process of law enforcement, verbally attacked police and government officers, and sent police-related information to frontline rioters.
Some analysts say that journalists are not supposed to obstruct law enforcement or abuse their power through spreading fake news, let alone assaulting police.