Letter: Concern for Hong Kong's press freedom

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The Independent Online
Sir: Any measure to safeguard human rights in Hong Kong after 1997 is, of course, welcome (report, 14 April), but first things first.

On 28 March, Xi Yang, a reporter for the Hong Kong Ming Pao newspaper, was given a punitive 12-year prison sentence for gathering information about gold transactions and interest rate adjustments by the People's Bank of China. By invoking a sweeping state security law to punish Xi Yang, the Chinese authorities have heightened concerns that Hong Kong journalists may be intimidated from undertaking normal information-gathering following transition to Chinese rule.

We believe that Xi Yang's conviction adds great urgency to the need for the Hong Kong government to amend or repeal existing local legislation which may well be used to justify the restriction of freedom of expression in Hong Kong after 1997. This legislation includes the Emergency Regulations Ordinance; the Official Secrets Act of 1989; the Broadcasting Authority Ordinance; and the Television and Telecommunications Ordinance, among others. These laws authorise censorship, veto a public interest defence for the exposure of broad categories of information, and incorporate dangerously broad definitions of treason and seditious intention.

Yours faithfully,

FRANCES D'SOUZA

Executive Director

Article 19

London, SE1

14 April

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