Civic Party leader Alvin Yeung has warned that a court injunction issued on Friday which bans people from publishing any information on police officers has dealt a blow to press freedom and will allow police brutality to go unchecked.
The secretary of justice and police commissioner had asked the High Court to restrict the disclosure of a range of personal information involving officers without their permission – including photographs of them.
A temporary injunction was granted until November 8, with another hearing likely to be held to decide whether the ban will be extended.
Yeung, who is also a barrister, told RTHK that the move strips society of its power to scrutinise the actions of the police and from revealing any abuses of power.
"The interim injunction first of all, will hit freedom of press. From now on it seems like the press will have a very difficult situation when it comes to reporting police issues," he said.
"Most importantly, it basically removes the checks and balances over police brutality. We have seen countless incidents over the past four months that, without public scrutiny and without the fact that we could take pictures and disclose what happened regarding police brutality, there was no way we could check and balance and scrutinise the police."
But pro-establishment lawmaker Priscilla Leung said the injunction doesn't touch on freedom of speech and people will still be free to criticise officers or lodge complaints over any suspicions of wrongdoing.
"We can still criticise [the police]. Disclosing other people's information without their consent ... this is not a kind of criticism. It already amounts to an illegal act," she said.
Leung added that she believes the injunction will have a deterrent effect when it comes to harassment of police officers.
"I think the police sector is a sector that is really under threat, including their family members, their children at school ... their residences are threatened and sometimes firebombed. I think the situation in Hong Kong is very, very serious," she said.