Rules on media seizures tightened

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 July, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 July, 1995, 12:00am

JOURNALISTS will be given better protection against their material being seized by police after a bill requiring officers to follow stricter procedures was passed yesterday.

The changes were sparked by the outrage over attempts by police to seize television footage to use as evidence against demonstrators after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

The Interpretation and General Clauses (Amendment) Bill will require police to follow a three-tier approach to obtain material.

Police must seek a judge's approval, with both parties represented, to obtain a search warrant if a journalist fails to produce the material on request.

Officers can seize material if a warrant is approved, but the material remains sealed and an open hearing between parties must be held to decide whether it can be used as evidence.

Emily Lau Wai-hing warned the Government not to abuse the third tier, which permits police to seize and use journalists' material in an emergency.