Amnesty condemns ‘disproportionate use of force’ by Hong Kong police

Jeck Deocampo   •   September 20, 2019   •   407

Amnesty International accused Hong Kong police on Friday (September 19) of torture and other abuses in their handling of more than three months of sometimes violent pro-democracy protests, but the police have said they had shown restraint.

Anti-government protesters, many masked and wearing black, have thrown petrol bombs at the police and central government offices, stormed the Legislative Council, blocked roads to the airport, trashed metro stations and set fires on the streets of the Chinese-ruled city.

Police have responded with tear gas, water cannon, rubber bullets, bean bags and several live rounds fired in the air, warning the crowds beforehand with a series of different coloured banners. They have also been seen beating protesters on the ground with batons.

Amnesty East Asia director Nicholas Bequelim told Reuters a field investigation had documented “disproportionate use of force” by the Hong Kong Police Force as well as mistreatment of detainees, including “a couple cases of torture”.

Amnesty also said the investigation had found “exclusive evidence of torture and other ill-treatment in detention” and called into question the Hong Kong government’s whole approach to the protest movement.

There appeared to be a “level of incompetence” among the police force, with some instances of teargas being deployed without proper justification or clear purpose to maintain public order, Bequelim said.

Amnesty called on the Hong Kong government to conduct a dialogue with the protesters, and establish an independent investigation committee to look into the accusations of excessive use of force by police. (REUTERS)

(Production: Xihao Jiang, Joyce Zhou, Jiraporn Kuhakan, Alex Solum, Peter Blaza, Angie Teo)

Hong Kong leader says security laws will not affect city’s rights and freedoms

UNTV News   •   May 26, 2020

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday (May 26) that Beijing’s proposed national security laws would not trample on the city’s rights and freedoms and called on its citizens to wait to see the details of the legislation.

Beijing unveiled plans last week for national security legislation for Hong Kong that aims to tackle secession, subversion and terrorist activities. It could see Chinese intelligence agencies set up bases in the city.

Thousands poured onto the street of Hong Kong on Sunday (May 24) in a mass protest against the planned new security laws.

Police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd and arrested almost 200 people.

More protests are expected in Hong Kong on Wednesday (May 27). (Reuters)

(Production: Joyce Zhou)

Hong Kong airport deploys robots to disinfect ahead of expected traffic jump

UNTV News   •   May 8, 2020

Hong Kong’s International Airport is deploying cleaning robots and is testing out a disinfection booth for staff as the city lifts social distancing restrictions and authorities prepare for an expected jump in traffic in June.

One robot being used in the public toilets emits ultraviolet rays and sprays disinfectant. It was first used on chartered flights that brought residents back to Hong Kong as the coronavirus spread in other countries. About 10 robots are being used in total in the airport, including a couple that clean floors.

The booth being tested out on staff sprays disinfectant for 40 seconds and uses facial recognition technology.

Stephen Yiu, a deputy director with the airport authority, said he expects travel to pick up in June, when a 14-day mandatory quarantine measure for people coming from the mainland and Taiwan is set to expire.

The global aviation industry has been hit hard as global travel has been restricted. The airport’s latest statistics show that 5,550 passenger flights arrived in Hong Kong in March, a drop in 82.1% compared with the same month last year.

Yiu said the airport has learned from procedures developed in the wake of the SARS outbreak in 2003.

“We found it very useful during the recent virus outbreak,” he said.

Hong Kong, which had a total of 1,045 confirmed cases of COVID-19, has had zero local infections in more than two weeks, prompting restrictions to be relaxed. Game centres, gyms, and cinemas were allowed to re-open as of Friday (May 8). (Reuters)

(Production: Pak Yiu)

Pro-China and democratic lawmakers scuffle in Hong Kong legislature

UNTV News   •   May 8, 2020

Rival lawmakers scuffled in Hong Kong’s legislature on Friday (May 8) in a row over electing the chairman of a key committee, a fresh sign of rising political tension as the coronavirus pandemic eases in the Chinese-ruled city.

Lawmakers shouted and pushed one another at the Legislative Council meeting. Some democrats charged at a line of guards, seeking to eject a pro-Beijing lawmaker who attempted to chair the meeting in a move that democrats said violated procedure. Guards carried several democrats out of the chamber.

Beijing has accused the former British colony’s pro-democracy lawmakers of “malicious” filibustering to prevent some proposed bills from going to a final vote, effectively paralysing the legislature.

Democrats said the committee needs to elect a chairman first, before any legislation, including one bill that would criminalise abuse of China’s national anthem, can be discussed.

Starry Lee, of the pro-establishment Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong, attempted to chair the meeting from behind a wall of about two dozen guards in grey suits.

Democrats, who argue filibustering in the legislature is legal and an established international practice, responded by shouting “Starry Lee, step down!” and holding placards reading “ultra vires”, Latin for acting “beyond one’s powers.”

Hong Kong returned to China in 1997 with a guarantee of its much-cherished freedoms, such as an independent judiciary, not enjoyed on the mainland. Beijing rejects criticism that it is seeking to erode those freedoms. (Reuters)

(Production: Joyce Zhou)

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