Tue, Jan 14, 2020 - Page 1 News List

Police watchdog finds ‘shortcomings’ during HK protests

NOT WELCOME:Beijing said it barred the head of Human Rights Watch from entering the territory on Sunday due to the group’s support for the protests

Bloomberg

Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma Tao-li inspects an honor guard of the Hong Kong Police Force at Edinburgh Place yesterday before deliving a speech to mark the ceremonial opening of the legal year at City Hall.

Photo: Reuters

An investigation by Hong Kong’s police watchdog into the conduct of the territory’s officers throughout recent unrest has revealed “many shortcomings,” the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported yesterday.

The 300-page report from the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) found a failure to separate peaceful demonstrators from violent protesters, the newspaper reported, citing unidentified people.

The probe also determined there was a lack of communication among front-line police commanders during protests and insufficient “ceasefire” guidelines when using tear gas, the newspaper said.

The report, which has not yet been officially released, is scheduled to be discussed at a meeting of the IPCC this week.

If approved, it would be submitted to Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) for possible release in the coming weeks.

An IPCC spokeswoman yesterday said the agency declined to comment and the Hong Kong Police Force did not immediately respond to requests for comment, although the police have consistently defended their actions as a response to recurring violence from protesters, some hurling Molotov cocktails and attacking officers.

The IPCC report detailed examinations of several major protests, the Economic Journal said.

Those include a million-strong rally followed by clashes on June 9, demonstrations on June 12 and the events of July 1, when protesters broke into and ransacked the Legislative Council building.

It does not have extended sections on two prominent incidents that spurred outrage against the police: the July 21 attacks on protesters and subway passengers by mobs of men wearing white T-shirts in Yuen Long and the riot police’s Aug. 31 storming of a subway station in Prince Edward.

In other developments, China yesterday said it barred the head of the internationally renowned organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) from entering the territory due to the group’s support for the ongoing protest movement.

Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang (耿爽) said that the group had instigated “anti-China activists” to “engage in radical violent crimes, and incite separatist activities hyping Hong Kong independence.”

Groups such as Human Rights Watch were responsible for the current unrest in Hong Kong, and “deserve sanctions and must pay a price,” Geng told reporters at a daily briefing in Beijing.

HRW executive director Kenneth Roth had planned to launch the organization’s annual world report in Hong Kong this week, but was barred from entering on Sunday and put on a flight back to the US.

In other developments, Lam yesterday told a regional financial forum in Hong Kong that the territory’s strengths as a global financial hub have not been undermined by the months of protests.

Its financial system remained stable thanks to lessons learned since the Asian financial crisis, she said.

Additional reporting by AP and Reuters

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