HONG KONG – The Hong Kong government has amended guidelines for censors under the Film Censorship Ordinance to provide them with clearer guidelines on film examination and classification following the National Security Law’s implementation.
The amended guidelines were gazetted and took effect on Friday, the government said in a press release issued on the same day.
Under the current film censorship regulatory framework, films intended for public exhibition have to be examined and classified by censors according to the criteria under the ordinance.
Censors may also determine the suitability of a film for exhibition, and the need for excisions and imposing conditions.
The government said the film censorship regulatory framework is built on the premise of a balance between protection of individual rights and freedoms, and the protection of legitimate societal interests
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According to Article 3 of the National Security Law, the executive authorities, legislature and judiciary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall effectively prevent, suppress and impose punishment for any act or activity endangering national security in accordance with the National Security Law and other relevant laws.
The Commerce and Economic Development Bureau said censors must abide by these provisions in discharging their duties under the ordinance.
“Censors should be vigilant to the portrayal, depiction or treatment of any act or activity which may amount to an offense endangering national security, or jeopardize the safeguarding of national security by the Hong Kong SAR,” according to the release.
“Generally speaking, if the exhibition of a film would likely constitute an offense endangering national security, or if the film contains a matter referred to in the ordinance and the film as a whole and its effect on the viewers may endanger national security or the safeguarding of national security, the censor should form the opinion that the film is not suitable for exhibition,” the government said.
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The government added the film censorship regulatory framework is built on the premise of a balance between protection of individual rights and freedoms, and the protection of legitimate societal interests.
It also said that although fundamental rights should be respected, the exercise of such rights are subject to restrictions provided by law that are necessary for pursuing legitimate aims, such as respecting others’ rights or reputation, protecting national security or public order, or public health or morals.