A group of homeless people on Tuesday won a lawsuit against the government over the authorities' decision to remove their belongings from the streets more than two years ago, with each of them to be awarded a nominal HK$100 for their losses.
The Small Claims Tribunal heard that riot police and staff from the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) carried out a clearance operation on December 21, 2019 to evict the street sleepers living in Tung Chau Street Park in Sham Shui Po.
It heard that authorities had ordered the homeless to collect their belongings within three minutes, but most of those who lived in the park were not there at the time.
Nine claimants had told the tribunal that LCSD staff had put their belongings in a nearby garbage truck for their collection afterwards, and threw away the uncollected items a few days later.
The claimants each asked for HK$2,000 to around HK$13,000 dollars in damages for their alleged losses.
Handing down his judgement, adjudicator Arthur Lam said the Department of Justice, representing the LCSD, had failed to prove that the authorities had provided due care to the claimants' items, adding that their practice could not be considered prudent.
He ordered the LCSD to pay each claimant a nominal HK$100 in damages. Both parties were ordered to afford their own legal costs.
Ng Wai-tung from the Society for Community Organisation, who's been helping the claimants, said several other homeless people who had earlier taken part in the lawsuit either passed away or were no longer contactable.
One of the nine claimants, surnamed Chiu, had died earlier this month after catching Covid, Ng said.
He also urged the government to formulate friendly policies towards the homeless and set up a dedicated department to follow up on their complaints.