Rights group wants Olympic committee to act on media freedom abuses

Society Materials 15 August 2008 12:05 (UTC +04:00)

A human rights watchdog called Friday on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to establish a mechanism for reporting violations of media freedom in China.

Human Rights Watch said human rights groups had provided the committee with "extensive documentation" of abuses but insisted it had to do more than state its "disapproval" of attempts to hinder journalists' work, dpa reported.

"The IOC's public expression of concern is welcome, but it won't have any effect without real action," said Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. "The International Olympic Committee's failure to address this problem highlights the urgent need for mechanisms to prevent further abuses."

The committee should, therefore, establish a 24-hour hotline for reporting abuses, demand the investigation of cases and press the Chinese government to disclose the whereabouts of sources who disappeared after giving interviews, the New York-based rights group demanded.

Human Rights Watch said foreign journalists have complained of increased harassment and surveillance since the start of the Beijing Olympic Games, including attempts to intimidate them and their sources by photographing and video-recording their movements.

This week, a British journalist was arrested and manhandled in Beijing when reporting on a protest. In the restive north-western region of Xinjiang, foreign journalists were harassed and detained when attempting to report on events there.