11/19/2020, 15.35
HONG KONG – CHINA
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Hong Kong High Court says independent police complaint system needed

This is one of the demands of the pro-democracy movement. Judge Chow refutes Hong Kong’s chief executive, noting that the current system violates the 1991 Bill of Rights. Many fear for the independence of the local judiciary. For Jimmy Lai, faith will help the struggle for freedom in the former British colony.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – Hong Kong’s High Court today ruled that the police complaint mechanism in use violates the Bill of Rights on torture and cruel treatment.

For Judge Anderson Chow, the government has a duty to maintain an independent mechanism on police complaints.

In the wake of the anti-extradition bill movement, the Hong Kong Journalists Association had filed the case in court arguing that the government had a duty to establish an independent mechanism to review complaints against the force.

Between the summer of 2019 and the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year, the pro-democracy movement held rallies almost every day to defend Hong Kong’s autonomy against Beijing's power grab.

One of the main demands of the pro-democracy movement is an independent investigation into police handling of last year’s demonstrations, along with the introduction of universal suffrage to allow Hong Kong voters to choose their elected officials.

The High Court decision rejects the position of Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, for whom the existing mechanism is adequate to hear appeals against police actions, and that an independent system is not necessary.

For now, the Complaints Against Police Office and the Independent Police Complaints Council, two internal police bodies, investigate complaints. For the High Court, this violates Article 3 of the 1991 Bill of Rights.

The ruling comes a few days after a senior Chinese official said that Beijing wants to review Hong Kong’s Basic Law, including its legal system.

Pro-democracy forces fear that such a move could erode the independence of Hong Kong courts, which was already weakened in June with the approval of the new security law.

One of the victims of the measure, publishing tycoon Jimmy Lai, owner of the Apple Daily newspaper, however, issued a message of faith.

On receiving the Acton Institute's Faith and Freedom Award yesterday, he explained how faith has supported his fight for freedom in Hong Kong.

“Because freedom has a price,” he said, “you may go through hardships, you may lose heart, but with the grace of God, with him sharing my sufferings, I know I can only become a better person and I’m freed from all those burdens or anxiety.”

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