The Hong Kong Civil Liberties Union has published a handy guide to protester’s rights and freedom of speech in Hong Kong. The NGO kindly collaborated with Hong Wrong to allow us to reproduce this essential information on the blog ahead of this year’s July 1st pro-democracy march…
“Hong Kong residents shall have freedom of speech, of the press and of publication; freedom of association, of assembly, of procession and of demonstration; and the right and freedom to form and join trade unions, and to strike” – Basic Law Article 27
WHEN BEING STOPPED AND SEARCHED
According to the Police Force Ordinance section 54, a police officer may:
…stop you and request you to produce proof of identity;
…detain you for a reasonable time to find out if you have at any time been involved in any crime;
…conduct a search on you if s/he believes that you might possess anything that may cause danger to him, and detain you for a reasonable time to conduct such a search. (The Police Force Ordinance section 54)
Police officers should not conduct a search on members of the opposite sex. If there is no female officer, you may request going to the nearest police station to have the search conducted by a female officer.
WHEN BEING ARRESTED
1. An officer must inform you of the crime you are suspected of committing… “I, PCxxx, arrest you (your name) now. I have reason to believe that (place, time and date) you are suspected to be involved in (suspected crime e.g. assaulting a police officer).”
2. At this time, the officer must caution you… “You are not obliged to say anything unless you wish to do so but what you say may be put into writing and given in evidence.” This is not only a line we often hear on TV, but also a reminder of your right to remain silent.
AT THE POLICE STATION
1. The officer shall issue a “Notice to Persons under Investigation by, or Detained in the Custody of, the Police” to you. You must read it carefully and exercise the rights listed below if necessary…
a. Seek legal advice. You may request a list of lawyers from the police;
b. Inform your family and/or friends about your condition;
c. Be released on bail;
d. Request refreshments and/or medical attention if necessary. After reading it, the officer will ask you to sign on the notice and give you a copy.
2. During your detention, the police may request to conduct a search on you. Before the search, the police officer will issue a “Custody Search Form” to inform you of the reasons for the search, the extent of the search and what they are searching for. The search must be conducted by a police officer of the same sex and only same sex police officers may be present. The police officer must ensure your privacy during the search. Should you have any complaints during the search, you should report it to the duty officer at the police station.
3. The officer may record the events and the things you said at the scene on his notebook and invite you to sign on it for accuracy.
a. If there is anything inaccurate, you have the right to ask the officer to amend it.
b. If you do not agree with anything in the notebook, you are NOT obliged to sign it.
4. The officer will record what you say in writing. You may request the officer to write it down for you. The officer shall then ask you to write the following declaration,
“I, (Your name), wish to make a statement. I want someone to write down what I say. I have been told that I need not say anything unless I wish to do so and that whatever I say may be given in evidence.”
5. During the interview, the officer will ask you questions…
a. You have the right of silence.
b. Please remember the differences between “I do not want to answer.”, “I don’t know”, “I have not.” and “No.” — “No” and “I have not” mean a complete denial of the matter; “I don’t know” means you have no knowledge of the matter; “I do not want to answer” means you refuse to give any answers to the questions.
c. When exercising your right of silence, it means you refuse to answer any questions.
d. The officer must not at any time use any threats, violence or inducement on you.
6. Even if you choose not to answer any questions, the officer will still continue to ask. At the end, the officer will ask if you are going to refuse to answer all the questions that s/he is going to ask.
7. When the interview is finished, the officer will ask you to sign next to all the amendments, at the bottom of each page and at the end of the record of interview. The officer will also ask you to write down the following declarations and sign beside them to certify the accuracy of this record of interview… “I have read the above statement and I have been told that I can correct, alter or add anything I wish. This statement is true. I have made it of my own free will.” and “I have read the above statement, total of (X) pages. This statement contains the accurate and complete record of my answers.”
a. If anything in this record of interview is inaccurate, you have the right to request the officer to amend it.
b. The officer will give you a copy of it.
8. After taking the record of interview (also known as “cautioned statement”), the police must take you to the magistracy for mention at the earliest possible time. The police may detain you for 48 hours.
9. You have the right to apply for a police bail…
a. If the crime is not serious and the police have no further reason to detain you, they should give you bail. You may be asked to provide a cash or surety bail. If you have no cash, you may ask your friend to act as your surety for a surety bail.
b. In considering if a bail should be granted, the police will consider the following factors:
i. the likelihood that you might abscond;
ii. the seriousness of the case and the possibility
iii. the possibility of the witness being harassed
iv. the likelihood that you would commit any further
c. If the police refuse bail, they must take you to the court for mention as soon as possible (usually the next working day after a charge is laid). You may apply for a bail in the mention in front of a magistrate. If the magistrate refuses to grant you a bail, you may still apply for a bail from a judge in the High Court.
d. Should the police detain you more than 48 hours without the permission of the court, you may contact your lawyer to apply for “Habeas Corpus” in the High Court.
COMPLAINTS / ABUSE
Complaints Against the Police Reporting Centre: G/F, Annex Block, Caine House, No.3 Arsenal Street, Wan Chai. Hotline: 2866 7700. Fax: 2200 4460, 2200 4461, 2200 4462 Office hours: Mon – Fri 7:30 am to 6:30 pm; Sat, Sun & Public Holiday closed.
- Complaints against police information and online e-form.
- Search for a lawyer in Hong Kong.
- List of law firms in Hong Kong.
Download this Hong Kong Civil Liberties Union English leaflet to take with you…
Craig Choy of the Civil Liberties Union told the SCMP that “We noticed that more people were being arrested at protests, so that’s why we gathered this publicly available information so they know their rights.”