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Hong Kong leader flaunts “fake news” laws as media freedom concerns grow

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Hong Kong CEO Carrie Lam speaks at a ceremony marking National Security Education Day in Hong Kong, China, April 15, 2021. REUTERS / Lam Yik

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said Tuesday that the government was working on “fake news” legislation to address “misinformation, hatred and lies” as concerns about media freedoms rise in the global financial center.

Under Beijing, Hong Kong has taken a rapid authoritarian turn following the imposition of a comprehensive national security law in 2020, with a new attempt at “patriotism” pouring into most aspects of city life.

A major overhaul of the public broadcaster RTHK, led by a newly appointed bureaucrat with no media experience, is widely seen as a signal that the government’s red lines will soon surround journalism as it has other sectors, such as education.

Speaking at her weekly press conference, Lam said the government was studying “fake news” but added that it had no timetable for legislation.

“The fake news law needs a lot of research, especially (on) how overseas governments are tackling this increasingly disturbing trend of spreading inaccurate information, misinformation, hatred and lies on social media,” she said.

“We will continue to be very serious about this issue because of the damage it is doing to a lot of people.”

Her comments come a day after RTHK reported that the broadcaster would not renew the contract of its journalist Nabela Qoser, known for harshly questioning Lam and other officials during the massive 2019 anti-government protests.

RTHK has also begun removing some of its archives from Youtube and its social media channels, prompting online activists to reserve some of the content on blockchain platforms.

Another RTHK journalist, Bao Choy, was found guilty by a court last month of improper access to public records for a documentary on the police treatment of a mob attack on pro-democracy protesters, reporters and bystanders in 2019. .

Her documentary won an award for the local press the day before the decision, which RTHK did not accept.

The July 2019 attack in the northern Yuen Long district, when more than 100 men in white T-shirts hit people with sticks and poles at a train station, sparked widespread criticism of police including allegations of collaborating with the trio gangsters, which police i mohon. Read more

Courts have not yet convicted any of the attackers.

Reporters Without Borders ranks Hong Kong 80th out of 180 in terms of press freedom, in free fall over the past decade.

Our standards: Principles of Trust of Thomson Reuters.

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