Hong Kong s Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC) on April 25 cancelled its annual Human Rights Press Awards, citing fears over the national security law.
“Over the last two years, journalists in Hong Kong have been operating under new ‘red lines’ on what is and is not permissible, but there remain significant areas of uncertainty and we do not wish unintentionally to violate the law,” FCC President Keith Richburg said in a statement.
“This is the context in which we decided to suspend the awards,” Richburg further said.
The FCC said its Board met on April 23 and “decided to suspend” the awards after a “lengthy” discussion.
The winners were due to be announced on World Press Freedom Day on May 3.
The decision to suspend the awards sparked resignations in FCC’s press freedom committee, as well as public criticisms from journalists and former award winners.
“I feel nothing but the deepest regret and do not stand by this decision,” Shibani Mahtani, Hong Kong Bureau Chief for The Washington Post and one of the members of FCC’s press freedom committee who resigned, said on Twitter.
“I have strongly recommended to the FCC president and its current board that we should seriously rethink the role of the press freedom committee, and the club as a whole. I believe it is no longer able to serve its core mission: to defend and promote the press,” Mahtani added.
FCC said in the statement that they explored “a variety of other options, but could not find a feasible way forward.”
“The FCC intends to continue promoting press freedom in Hong Kong, while recognizing that recent developments might also require changes to our approach,” the club said.
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