IJF24 is taking place during Jimmy Lai's trial in Hong Kong under the much criticised National Security Law, imposed on Hong Kong by Beijing in 2020. Jimmy Lai, the renowned publisher, writer, pro-democracy campaigner, and founder of Apple Daily, the most popular independent Chinese language newspaper in Hong Kong until its forced closure in 2021, is currently standing trial for alleged crimes of sedition and collusion with foreign forces. He is, in effect, charged with conspiracy to commit journalism: the trial focuses upon Apple Daily’s articles, its advertising, its editorial slant.

Jimmy Lai’s trial commenced in December 2023 and will run for a number of months. In January 2024 UN experts called for Jimmy Lai’s immediate release, and condemned the prosecution’s reliance on evidence from a witness who was reportedly tortured in mainland China. In March 2024 new, draconian Article 23 legislation was rushed through, which makes the situation in Hong Kong even worse for journalists. The closure of the Radio Free Asia Hong Kong bureau followed swiftly, within days. Jimmy Lai’s international legal team and other supporters outside the country have been threatened with prosecution.

What is at stake could not be more important, both for Jimmy Lai - now aged 76 and facing death behind bars - and for Hong Kong. This trial is hugely significant, and it comes at a vital time, when the last remnants of media freedom in Hong Kong are being stripped away. This panel will discuss the latest developments in Hong Kong, and what the international community, and the journalism community, should do to support Jimmy Lai and the remaining brave journalists in Hong Kong.