China: amid protests, RSF and 48 NGOs urge the regime to respect human rights, including press freedom
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and a coalition of 48 human rights NGOs urge the Chinese government to respect human rights, including freedom of the press, especially in the context of the current protests against the regime's zero-Covid policy.
In a joint statement published on 7 December 2022 (see below), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and a coalition of 48 NGOs called on the Chinese government to respect human rights, including freedom of the press, in the context of the current protests against the regime's zero-Covid policy.
Since 24 November, Chinese people have been protesting in almost every major city nationwide against the regime's stringent zero-Covid policy, which the regime instrumentalized to increase censorship and surveillance over the past three years. The suppression resulted in the physical assault of numerous journalists by the police, and the arrest of at least two reporters including BBC's correspondent Edward Lawrence.
- Respect the right to assembly. Respect the rights to privacy and freedoms of peaceful assembly and expression enshrined in the Constitution and international human rights law, and ensure all police responses are in line with international standards, including the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials;
- Stop arresting protesters. Stop pursuing persons involved in peaceful protests, and ensure that anyone subject to violations of their rights can seek effective remedy;
- Cease harassment of journalists. Stop surveilling, harassing, mistreating, searching and arbitrarily arresting journalists and press freedom defenders for independently reporting on the protests;
- Publish the number of detainees. Publish the number of persons detained for taking part in peaceful protests and provide details of their alleged crimes;
- Notify families of arrested individuals. Ensure that the family members of all those deprived of liberty are notified of their whereabouts and the charges made against them;
- Guarantee the rights of detainees. Ensure the physical and psychological safety and well-being of all those currently deprived of liberty on grounds related to the recent protests, and guarantee their rights, including meeting with a lawyer of their own choice;
- Cease harassment of lawyers. Stop interfering with, harassing and intimidating lawyers and legal professionals, human rights defenders, and others who openly express concern about the protesters or who defend the right to peaceful protest.
RSF invites journalists reporting on the ground to refer to the website A Journalist’s Resource for Safe Reporting, available in both Chinese and English at training.rsf.org and also through a mirror link that circumvents Chinese Internet censorship. It also includes the latest digital versions of the Safety Guide for Journalists published by RSF since 1992 in partnership with UNESCO.
In his decade of leadership , Chinese leader Xi Jinping has placed both state and private media under closer control and has increased Internet censorship and surveillance to record levels. In 2021, RSF published The Great Leap Backwards of Journalism in China , detailing Beijing's efforts to control information and media within its borders.
China ranks 175th out of 180 in the 2022 RSF World Press Freedom Index and is the world's largest captor of journalists with at least 110 detained, including 11 in Hong Kong.