Journalist groups petition Apec to guarantee media access

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 October, 2013, 3:26am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 October, 2016, 2:38pm

Almost 30 journalist groups worldwide have called on Apec to guarantee reporters access at meetings, after controversy over the expulsion of Hong Kong reporters from its summit in Indonesia this month.

In an open letter this week, the groups condemned "such harassment of journalists" and urged Apec organisers to "respect the rights of the press to cover any Apec summit".

At the centre of the row was an October 6 incident during the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation ministerial meetings in Bali, in which four Hong Kong reporters were banned after they shouted questions at Philippine President Benigno Aquino about the 2010 Manila hostage tragedy.

The reporters, from the government-run RTHK, Commercial Radio and Now TV, were forced to leave, and later, four more from Now TV were also disqualified from the event.

An Agence France-Presse report quoted President Aquino's spokesman as saying the reporters had "crossed the line" and the questioning caused "potential physical threat" to the president. An Indonesian communications ministry official also complained that the reporters were "very demonstrative".

But the journalist groups hit back in the letter, saying: "Their treatment of the Hong Kong journalists is outright contempt of press freedom.

"The Indonesian and Filipino authorities' new definition of 'security threat' is alarming not just for the Hong Kong media, but also for journalists worldwide."

A total of 29 groups signed the petition, including the Hong Kong Journalists Association; US-based Freedom Forum; Reporters Without Borders, and the World Association of Newspaper and News Publishers.