新聞工作者及師生呼籲香港大學撤回禁制令 Journalists, teachers and students of journalism urge HKU to withdraw application for gag order

我們是一群新聞工作者和新聞系師生,對於香港大學申請及取得臨時禁制令,禁止商業電台及任何人士發布有關港大校務委員會會議的錄音、文件及內容,我們深表遺憾,認為港大此舉嚴重打擊言論自由和新聞自由,剝削公眾知情權,呼籲港大撤回禁制令。

港大校委會委任副校長風波,涉及大學院校自主、學術自由等重大公眾利益,引發社會廣泛關注。根據港大《校務委員會委員的行事指引及守則》,校委會的決定和行動必須向公眾問責,而所有決定和行動亦應盡可能公開和解釋理由,但校委會一直以保密制為名,拒絕詳細交代不接納物色委員會惟一建議人選的理由,只是一味否認沒有受到政治干預,令社會疑慮日益加深。基於公眾利益,傳媒有責任和合理理由,揭露箇中內情。商業電台公開相信是校委會會議的錄音聲帶,讓公眾了解校委會不按慣例,否決物色委員會建議人選的理由,其他傳媒跟進報道,正是克盡新聞界天職的表現。

我們認為,港大申請禁制令,明顯妨礙港人享有的言論和新聞自由。根據《香港人權法案條例》第十六條及《公民權利和政治權利國際公約》第十九條保障的發表自由,任何人均享有尋求、接受和傳遞各種消息和思想的自由,港大申請禁制令,禁止所有人士使用、發布、披露校委會的會議錄音、議程、會議檔案、會議紀錄及任何文件,嚴重及不相稱地損害公約保障的表達自由。

更令人憂慮的是,作為公共機構的香港大學,利用禁制令限制公眾了解和監察校委會這涉及公眾利益的決定,一旦其他理應受到傳媒監察的機構、公職人員會爭相仿傚,利用禁制令阻止傳媒履行第四權的天職,勢必助長黑箱運作,權力腐化,市民利益豈有不受損之理!

我們必須指出,港大申請禁制令之舉,既不符合公眾利益,其念茲在茲要保密的會議內容,亦已因為傳媒廣為傳播而失去機密性,禁制令已無必要。更何況,在現今網絡無疆界的情況下,已公開的錄音不單止在香港流傳,海外相信亦已以幾何級數傳播,限制香港傳播,只是剝奪港人的知情權,而海外人士則因司法管轄權的原因而不受限制,自由傳播,這對港人而言,實屬荒謬。

言論自由和新聞自由是大眾得享各種自由的基礎,我們期望,港大作為香港最高學府,秉持推動學術自由的天職,守護言論和新聞自由,改弦更張,撤銷禁制令的申請。我們更期望,法庭在周五再次審理有關申請時,能作出有利公眾利益的決定。

發起團體:
香港記者協會
香港攝影記者協會
香港電台節目製作人員工會
壹傳媒工會
明報職工協會
獨立評論人協會
大專新聞教育工作者聯席

*聯署對象為新聞工作者、新聞教育工作者及新聞系學生,請避免重覆填寫網上聯署及實體聯署聲明,聯署截止時間為2015年11月4日晚上11:59。
**收集所得資料只用於上述聯署。

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We are a group of journalists, teachers and students of journalism. We deeply regret the University of Hong Kong’s move to obtain an interim injunction to forbid the Commercial Radio and any other persons from releasing audio recordings, papers and discussions of the HKU Council (“The Council”) meetings. The move is a severe blow to freedom of speech and of the press and deprives the public of the right to know. We urge the University to withdraw its application for such a gag order.

The controversy surrounding the Council’s handling of the appointment of a pro-vice-chancellor is of great public interest, involving the University’s institutional autonomy and academic freedom. It has drawn widespread concern in the society. According to the Guide and Code of Practice for Members of the Council of HKU, the Council’s decisions and actions must be held accountable to the public. All decisions and actions should be made public and be well explained. However, the Council has hidden behind the confidentiality rules and refused to explain why it did not accept the sole candidate recommended by a search committee. It has only repeatedly denied political interference was at play in the Council. This has deepened doubts in the society. Based on public interest, the media have the responsibility and reason to expose the workings of the Council. Commercial Radio was only fulfilling its duty when it released audio files believed to be taken during a council meeting. It let the public understand the underlying reasons behind the Council not following normal practice when voting down the recommendation of the search committee.

The injunction sought would undoubtedly restrict the freedoms of speech and of the press in Hong Kong. As stipulated in Article 16 of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, everyone shall have the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds. The University's application for an injunction to bar everyone from using, disseminating and disclosing any audio clips, agenda, files, minutes and all other kinds of documents of its council meetings is seriously and disproportionately jeopardising the freedoms protected under the Covenant.

More worryingly, the action by the University to hinder the public from understanding and scrutinising an important decision by the Council may set a bad example for other public institutions and public office bearers to follow. This would obstruct the media from carrying out its duty as the fourth estate and encourage those in power to work in the dark. Public interests would certainly be harmed.

We must point out that it does not serve the public's interest for HKU to apply for an injunction. Such an injunction is unnecessary, not only because the meeting’s content - which the University seeks to remain confidential - was already exposed by the local media, the content is also believed to have spread abroad extensively through the internet. If the broadcast of the material were prohibited in Hong Kong, it would only limit the Hong Kong people’s right to know, while people overseas will be spreading it freely because they are out of our jurisdiction. This situation is utterly ridiculous to the people of Hong Kong.

Speech and press freedoms are the foundations for various civic liberties. We hope that the University, as the premier academic institution of Hong Kong, will stay true to its mission of promoting academic freedom and the guardian of speech and press freedoms, and withdraw its application for injunction. We also hope that the court will make a decision in favour of public interest when it handles the application on Friday.

Hong Kong Journalists Association
Hong Kong Press Photographers Association
RTHK Programme Staff Union
Next Media Trade Union
Ming Pao Staff Association
Independent Commentators Association
Journalism Educators for Press Freedom

*The target participants of the joint petition are journalists, Journalism educators and journalism students. Please avoid signing up online and on hard-copy at the same time. The joint petition will be closed at 11:59 pm on 4 November 2015.

**The information collected below will only be used for this joint petition.

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