The Complaints Against Police Office (CAPO) has received 24 “reportable” complaints in relation to the Mong Kok protests that broke out over the government’s clearing of street hawkers earlier last month.

The 24 cases will be referred to the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) for scrutiny. However, none of the complaints were related to the firing of shots into the air by a police officer.

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IPCC Chairman Larry Kwok. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

IPCC Chairman Larry Kwok Lam-kwong said that the grievances were mostly related to the alleged assault and abuse of power by the police. Of the 24 cases, 16 had already been looked at by the IPCC, Ming Pao reported. Though they had been followed up, thus far there have yet to be any detailed reports.

Powerless to investigate 

Daniel Mui, deputy secretary-general at IPCC, said that the police watchdog had no powers of independent investigation and that – unless a complaint was received and referred to them by the CAPO – they could not look into the matter, RTHK reported. However, he also said that in each instance the CAPO would have to give reasons as to why they classified cases as “reportable” or not.

Regarding the alleged assault on a Ming Pao reporter by police officers that night, Kwok said that they had not received a complaint from the victim, therefore it could not be classified as “reportable” and handed over to the IPCC.

“Our responsibility is to do things within the scope of work as described by the legislation… if we’re trying to go beyond what is [permitted] for the IPCC to investigate or to take on the matter, I think that is irresponsible,” Kwok said.

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Photo: Kris Cheng, HKFP.

When asked whether this meant that there was nothing the IPCC could do anything about the fact that shots being fired into the air by a police officer, Kwok said that first and foremost, there must be a complaint. “It’s hard to say… but it’s unfair to us [to say we’re powerless], there’s a lot of assumptions in these questions,” Kwok said.

Kwok also said that in cases where legal proceedings are involved, the IPCC would have to wait until they are over before commencing an investigation.

Occupy-related cases

As of March 4, the IPCC said that they have received 172 “reportable” cases with regards to the pro-democracy Occupy protests in 2014. Of these cases, the IPCC received reports for 168 of them, 143 of which they approved. Mui said that they hope to finish processing all cases by early April.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.