Expat officers in HK could face torture case in UK - RTHK
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Expat officers in HK could face torture case in UK

2020-08-10 HKT 18:00
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  • Tear gas was fired at protesters at Citic Tower on June 12 last year during a mass rally against the now-withdrawn extradition bill. File photo: RTHK
    Tear gas was fired at protesters at Citic Tower on June 12 last year during a mass rally against the now-withdrawn extradition bill. File photo: RTHK
Priscilla Ng reports
An international coalition of activists and lawyers, among them exiled Hong Kong activist Nathan Law, are planning to launch a private prosecution in the UK against senior British officers serving in the local police force.

They are being accused of engaging in torture against demonstrators in the past year.

No police officers have been named so far, but according to the case, senior British officers here are accused of torturing pro-democracy protesters over the past year by, for example, stamping on their heads, kneeling on their necks and employing methods that contravene international policing norms and violate human rights law.

Barrister Michael Polak, a specialist in human rights and criminal law who is assisting in the case, said it is almost impossible to hold the Hong Kong police accountable for their actions, so a private prosecution of senior British expatriate officers is among the few options they could take to follow up on the matter.

"The Independent Police Complaints Council is not able to carry out objective investigations into what has taken place in Hong Kong. Further, the national security law means that bringing any action against the Hong Kong police within Hong Kong will be very difficult, as giving evidence against the Hong Kong police could be interpreted as subversion," Polak said.

The prosecution said it’s now gathering evidence, and called for witness testimonies concerning incidents of alleged abuse or sexual assault in police custody.

It is also appealing for information regarding the Citic Tower incident on June 12 last year, when rounds of tear gas were fired at a large number of protesters who had gathered outside the building during an authorised protest.

Polak added that as British nationals, the officers concerned could be prosecuted for offences over which the UK claims universal jurisdiction, including the crime of torture.

And he had this to say about any officers who may be found guilty and refuse to leave Hong Kong.

"There are lots of options to take in regards to international Red notices, Interpol notices, and stop them from travelling. And I don't think it's realistic for them to stay in Hong Kong and not travel to outside of Hong Kong for the rest of their career. So we're not too worried about that," he said.

The group has also kickstarted a crowdfunding campaign aimed at raising £200,000 to pay for the legal fees.

"The world is watching," Nathan Law said. "Even though we cannot seek justice in Hong Kong, justice has to be done."
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Last updated: 2020-08-10 HKT 18:57