The Hong Kong courts’ practice of limiting public access to court documents undermines open justice and journalists’ ability to accurately report on court cases, Associate Professor Doreen Weisenhaus recently told the South China Morning Post.
This practice of allowing only limited access to court files — generally only the documents filed to begin a case and the final judgment – falls far behind an international trend of making judicial documents accessible, Weisenhaus, Director of the Media Law Project at Hong Kong University’s Journalism and Media Studies Centre, told the SCMP this month.
She said countries such as the UK and US recognize how important it is for journalists to have broad access to court documents. Hong Kong’ policy, by contrast, was “like being given a sandwich with only two slices of bread but nothing of substance inside,” she was quoted as saying.
During her 14 years at the JMSC, news organizations have often turned to Weisenhaus for insights into media law issues locally and abroad. An expanded second edition of her book, Hong Kong Media Law, is due be published in March.
In recent months, the SCMP has used Weisenhaus as an authority on several stories including on Hong Kong’s proposed anti-stalking law, court communications and contempt of court issues.