The vice president of the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Victor Mallet, has had his work visa renewal refused, raising serious concerns about freedom of speech and the press on the island. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Hong Kong Journalists’ Association (HKJA) have condemned the decision by the Hong Kong government, and demand the immediate processing of the visa.
Victor Mallet is the Asia news editor of the Financial Times, and the vice president of the Hong Kong FCC. On Friday, October 5, the Financial Times revealed that Mallet’s work visa renewal had been refused noting that “this is the first time we have encountered this situation in Hong Kong. We have not been given a reason for the rejection.”
In August, Mallet chaired a luncheon at the Hong Kong FCC which included a speech by pro-democracy activist Andy Chan. The Hong Kong and Chinese governments attempted to intervene and have the talk cancelled, but the FCC went ahead.
On Monday, October 8, the IFJ and HKJA, along with several other organisations, delivered a petition to Hong Kong chief executive, Carrie Lam, calling for an explanation over Mallet’s visa refusal and for the decision to be revoked.
The HKJA said: “HKJA believes that freedom of speech and freedom of the press are the cornerstones of Hong Kong’s success. We urged the Government to reconsider and explain their decision. If left unexplained, it will give rise to worries that it is an act of reprisal against Mr Mallet, further undermining public confidence in freedom of speech and the press promised by the Basic Law.”
The IFJ said: “The refusal of Vitor Mallet’s visa renewal is step in the wrong direction for freedom of speech and the press in Hong Kong. The Government cannot use the visa system as a tool for silencing critical voices, which in doing so would be a violation of the Basic Law. We stand with HKJA in demanding reconsider the decision and guarantee Mallet’s new visa.”
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946
The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries
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