Executive Summary

Statutory Powers of the Hong Kong Police Force (“HKPF”)

  • The HKPF has access to massive manpower and financial resources, and wields considerable executive power. The purported objectives and values of the HKPF are written down in the open, but when it comes down to handling actual mass events, the actions of the police leave a lot to be desired.
  • Even though the Basic Law grants Hong Kong residents the rights to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, the HKPF could impose undue restrictions using their statutory powers. Since police officers enjoy extensive statutory powers while performing their duties, it is not hard to conclude that when police officers are suspected of abusing their powers or breaching the law while on duty, there would hardly be any accessible channel for citizens to seek redress under existing law. The problem would only be aggravated if the HKPF and high-ranking officials continue to ignore the issue or even commend the police for their transgressions.

Complaints Against Police and Regulatory Framework over Police Powers

  • Issues in the existing complaint mechanism:
    • The Complaints Against Police Office (“CAPO”) is not independent of the HKPF. Many citizens find it difficult to trust a system that leaves the investigation of complaints of police abuse in the hands of police officers themselves.
    • The Independent Police Complaint Council (“IPCC”) lacks the statutory power to summon witnesses for cross-examination and has an unsatisfactory track record in investigating large-scale events.
    • The Office of The Ombudsman does not have the right to investigate police misconduct.
    • Complaints filed to the Civil Service Bureau concerning police officers are generally referred back to the CAPO; the success rate of complaints against the civil servants concerned is extremely low.
    • The current trust crisis makes it difficult for citizens to believe that the police officers breaching the law would receive appropriate punishment.

Evidence of Suspected Police Transgressions While on Duty

  • As shown in the video footages gathered from online sources, the HKPF seems to be repeatedly breaching Police General Orders (PGOs) and other laws throughout the movement. We have found cases where the police are suspected to be involved in physical abuse (possibly constituting an offence under the Offences against the Person Ordinance), refusal to show the Police Warrant Card while performing their duties, obstruction of the press, etc. The videos we have seen suggest that the transgressions were not merely caused by negligence, but rather by deliberate actions by some members of the HKPF. The situation deteriorated as the conflicts escalated. This indicates an alarming absence in the checks and balances over police authority. The rule of law would be seriously undermined should the situation continue to worsen, and may lead to disastrous consequences.
  • Some of the video footage circulated on the internet is incomplete and is not necessarily admissible evidence in court. Also, due to constraints in time and resources, the authenticity of each video footage could not be verified individually, and as such may not necessarily present the whole truth. However, from the increasing trend of the number of video clips we have collected and the suspected abuse of power by the HKPF reflected in those clips, we have reason to believe that what this report reveals is only the tip of an iceberg.

Recommendations and Conclusions

  • In view of the current situation, merely establishing an independent investigation committee would no longer be able to satisfy all the demands of the public.
  • A thorough reform of the Police Force from within is the only way to regain public trust.
  • Any department monitoring the police must be reformed to exist independently of the HKPF, and must be granted with sufficient regulatory powers to thoroughly investigate suspected police transgressions.
  • The government turned a blind eye to the misconduct and dereliction of duties of the police, and refused to carry out a fair and just investigation, which is an abscondment of its duty to uphold the rule of law. The crux of the matter lies with the political system, and, therefore, all of the “Five Demands” must be met.

Next: Read the Full Report and Evidence