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  1. Police conduct has seen, in the words of Amnesty International, ‘another shocking low’ [1] in recent days as the Government ignored constructive feedback by its own experts and hysterically responded to the ongoing unrest without any rational strategy.
  2. In particular, these allegations point to a wanton failure on the part of the Government to properly approach policing and the underlying political crisis, now in its 5th month:
    a. Obstructing rescuers and ambulances from accessing the injured; [2] Unfair handling of allegations of rape and torture in custody; [3]
    b. Unapologetic excesses in its use of force; [4] and
    c. Evasive defence of police officers acting impulsively or in retaliation. [5]
  3. The Progressive Lawyers Group (the ‘PLG’) vehemently condemns the Police regarding their excessive use of force and dispersal operations which often create the chaos sought to be quelled. On 11 November, the police conducted operations in, amongst others, the Chinese University of Hong Kong (‘CUHK’), the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong and the University of Hong Kong to disperse unlawful assemblies and/or obstruction of traffic, [6] the factual basis of which has been doubted by many. As at the drafting of this Statement, as riot police responded to an olive branch by the CUHK Vice-Chancellor with tear gas and rubber bullets, severe clashes between students and riot police at CUHK are ongoing with at least 60 injured and dozens arrested. [7]
  4. Nonetheless, the crux of the problem remains in the institutional failure to investigate criminal allegations involving police officers impartially. At best, it could be an omission by individual police officers in their execution of duty. At worst, it could be a culture that acquiesces and conceals wrongdoings affecting grassroot constables, the Commissioner of Police, the Secretary for Security and the Chief Executive alike. Whichever the case may be, this perception of impunity breaches the trust and confidence the public reposes in the police who are tasked with investigating most offences. With this link broken, there remains very limited
    recourse in the criminal justice system against rogue officers.
  5. The PLG continues to call on the Hong Kong Government to appoint a
    Commission of Inquiry regarding, amongst others, the current approach to policing
    social unrest since June. Bringing wrongdoers to justice aside, the more important
    task is a holistic review on the Police Force and a roadmap to structural reforms. So
    far, the Government brushed aside this obvious and pragmatic option, insisting
    upon an inquiry by the Independent Police Complaints Council (‘IPCC’) [8] whose
    (lack of) oversight over the Complaints Against Police Office (‘CAPO’) is the very
    issue at the heart of the current saga.
  6. Curiously, the International Expert Panel of the IPCC appointed for advice on that
    very inquiry seems to hold a contrary view. In their Position Statement Report of
    Progress, the experts pointed out ‘structural limitations in the scope and powers of
    the IPCC Inquiry’ and noted that ‘it remains to be seen whether a light touch,
    oversight body like the IPCC, can make sufficient progress to produce any decisive
    contribution…’ It also identified a possible next step such as ‘a deeper more
    comprehensive inquiry in a number of respects by an independent body with
    requisite powers’, alluding to a Commission of Inquiry. [9]
  7. In response to the extraordinary brutalities these few weeks, the Government did
    nothing but maintain that it will not yield to the protesters’ demands (including an
    independent Commission of Inquiry) and call them ‘enemies of the people’. [10] It
    has not helped that the police have for months been blatantly using such a
    dehumanising term as ‘cockroaches’ to refer to protesters [11].
  8. The PLG stands by our Statement on 25 July 2019 and does not encourage citizens
    to take justice into their own hands. However, it is obvious by now that where the
    system fails to provide proper recourse, vigilantism and violence proclaiming
    self-defence arise as simple cause and effect. Without any real commitment by the
    Government to de-escalate and defuse the political crisis, verbal condemnation and
    physical crackdown will do nothing to ‘stop violence and curb disorder’.

Progressive Lawyers Group
15 November 2019

  1. 近日,警隊的行為就如國際特赦組織所言越見低劣。這皆因政府漠視其專家
    提供的建議,並以歇斯底里、毫無章法可言的策略回應持續的動盪。
  2. 五個月來,政府持續容許以下情況發生,對警政問題及根本的政治危機藥石
    亂投:
    a. 阻礙救護人員前往現場拯救傷者;[2]
    b. 偏頗地處理強姦或酷刑對待被拘留人士的指控;[3]
    c. 肆無忌憚地濫用武力;[4]
    d. 以諸多藉口為警察的失控或報復行為辯解。[5]
  3. 法政匯思強烈譴責警隊濫用武力,及其本末倒置、往往為社區添煩添亂的驅
    散示威者行動。警方在十一月十一日於香港中文大學(「中大」)、香港理
    工大學及香港大學等驅散非法集結及/或堵路行為的行動,指稱的事實根據
    惹人非議。在撰寫此聲明之時,警方甚至以催淚彈及橡膠子彈回應中大校長
    的善意,與學生發生激烈衝突,造成最少60 人受傷及多人被捕。
  4. 歸根究底,現有的制度未能公正地調查涉及警務人員的刑事指控,乃是警民
    衝突的源頭。樂觀地看,這可能只是個別調查人員的疏忽;悲觀地看,這反
    映一種互相包庇的文化,可能已由員佐級警員到警務處處長、保安局局長甚
    至特首,滲透警隊及政府上下。無論是哪一個情況,這種警察橫行無忌的觀
    感已經令公眾對負責調查大部分罪行的警察的信任蕩然無存。這個缺口一開,
    刑事司法制度剩下非常有限的能力,處理失職警員。
  5. 法政匯思繼續呼籲香港政府成立獨立調查委員會,調查包括六月份以來政府
    的治安管理手段。除了將肇事者繩之於法外,更重要的是全面檢閱香港警隊
    以達至結構上的改革。至今,特區政府對於這個明顯又實際的選擇不屑一顧,
    堅持讓一個缺乏監察權力的獨立監察警方處理投訴委員會(「監警會」)【8】
    去調查警察投訴及內部調查科。這正正就是問題根源所在。
  6. 監警會委派的國際專家組就這個問題發表《進展報告》。國際專家組與政府
    持相反意見。他們批評監警會在結構上欠缺全面調查權力,對監警會這一個
    輕型、監管式的體制是否能夠做出決定性的貢獻表示懷疑,更指出下一步的
    可能性諸如「委派一個享有所需權力的獨立調查機構以作更深程度及更廣泛
    的調查」,意味著一個獨立調查委員會。
  7. 對於近數星期暴力頻頻,政府沒有採取任何行動,只是堅拒示威者的訴求(包
    括成立獨立調查委員會),更稱他們為「人民的敵人」。【10】警員們多月
    來非人化地濫稱示威者為「曱甴」【11】。
  8. 法政匯思絕對不認同法外制裁。此立場於七月二十五日之聲明已表明。然而,
    當體制構建不能保障市民應有的追索權,暴力兼「私了」必如落山流水跟著
    來,這已清晰可見。僅說無諾,何能「止暴制亂」?

法政匯思
2019 年11 月15 日

[1]:
https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2019/11/hong-kong-investigate-shooting-protesters-anotherlow-
police-use-force/
[2]: Notable examples include blocking first-aiders from the Prince Edward MTR station on 31 August
(https://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1478390-20190902.htm), the Chow Tsz-lok case
(https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2019-11-08/hong-kong-protesters-call-for-revenge-after-
22-year-old-student-dies-in-fall), and another alleged obstruction at Kwun Tong MTR station on 11
November (https://m.facebook.com/watch/?v=2656354467777244).
[3]: Numerous accounts of torture in the San Uk Ling Holding Centre and other police stations
(https://standwithhk.org/files/San%20Uk%20Ling%20Detention%20Centre%20Final.pdf;
https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2019/09/hong-kong-arbitrary-arrests-brutal-beatings-and-tort
ure-in-police-detention-revealed/); Rape complainant having details of her case disclosed and being
discredited with her private medical records obtained under a now suspended search warrant
(https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10157000716531491&id=112018101490)
[4]: Disturbing injury caused by live rounds and teargas canisters fired at point blank range
(https://www.hongkongfp.com/2019/11/11/breaking-hong-kong-police-shoot-protester-live-round-saiwan-
ho/; https://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1489715-20191102.htm); random use of police
batons to beat up passers-by
(https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2019/09/hong-kong-arbitrary-arrests-brutal-beatings-and-tor
ture-in-police-detention-revealed/
[5]: A police officer was captured to have driven into protesters whilst the police spokesperson countered
by saying that his vision was obscured after protesters ‘sprayed an unknown substance in his face’
(https://www.hongkongfp.com/2019/11/11/hong-kong-police-suspend-motorcycle-officer-drove-prote
sters/); Police spokespersons also frequently refer to police officers acting on the ‘spur of the moment’
(電光火石之間) in defence of excessive force or unprovoked shootings (Regional Commander of Hong
Kong Island justifying the shooting on 11 November with this:
https://thestandnews.com/politics/%E4%BA%A4%E9%80%9A%E8%AD%A6%E9%96%8B%E6%
A7%8D-%E8%AD%A6%E6%96%B9-%E4%B8%AD%E6%A7%8D%E7%94%B7%E5%9C%96%E6
%90%B6%E6%A7%8D-%E8%AD%A6%E5%93%A1-%E9%9B%BB%E5%85%89%E7%81%AB%E
7%9F%B3-%E9%96%93%E7%84%A1%E6%B3%95%E5%85%88%E8%AD%A6%E5%91%8A-%E5
%82%B7%E8%80%85%E7%84%A1%E7%94%9F%E5%91%BD%E5%A8%81%E8%84%85/; The
Chief Secretary has employed exactly the same argument last month in relation to an earlier shooting:
https://news.rthk.hk/rthk/ch/component/k2/1486677-20191017.htm)
[6]: https://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1491569-20191112.htm
[7]: https://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1491673-20191112.htm
[8]:
https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/3033598/ipcc-report-police-conduct-during-p
rotests-expected-be-out
[9]: https://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1491070-20191110.htm
[10]: https://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1491385-20191111.htm
[11]:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/dogs-vs-cockroaches-on-hong-kong-streets-language-of-genocide-rea
rs-its-head/2019/11/04/32498608-fea7-11e9-8341-cc3dce52e7de_story.html