A group has launched a HK$10 million “sue the abuser” crowdfunding campaign to seek compensation and lodge legal challenges over cases of alleged police mistreatment during the summer’s protests.
The funds will be used for hiring expert witnesses and lawyers, and also for legal fees if plaintiffs lose. Donations will be temporarily held in an account belonging to the pro-democracy League of Social Democrats party, and any unused funds will be donated to groups with similar goals.
Six people who are set to take legal action appeared at a Thursday press conference – each was receiving assistance from volunteer lawyers from the Civil Human Rights Front coalition. Four others also plan to file legal challenges against the police, but have chosen to remain low-profile.
Police have been under fire as footage has emerged in recent months of apparent cases of misconduct. Watchdogs and democrats accuse the force of beating protesters and using crowd control weapons indiscriminately, or against international standards. City-wide unrest was originally triggered by the soon-to-be-withdrawn extradition bill, with large-scale peaceful protests sometimes evolving into violent displays of dissent over Beijing’s encroachment and alleged police misconduct.
The six at Tuesday’s press briefing included Ng Hong-luen, who said he was beaten by riot police, and cancer patient Ng Ying-mo who was shot with a police projectile – both cases occurred in Admiralty on June 12. They also included Lo Cham-sze, who said he was injured by riot police in Sha Tin on July 14, and Chan Kung-shun who said he was struck with a baton in Tseung Kwan O on August 4. Chan said he was walking in a park with his son, and not taking part in a protest.
The other two included Lam Wai-kwan, who said his arm was broken after he was pushed down by undercover police officers in Causeway Bay on August 11, and Andy Chui, an Eastern district councillor who was arrested in Chai Wan on September 1.
‘Tip of the iceberg’
Chan Kung-shun, who was moderating the press conference, said they expected legal action to take many years. He said the crowdfunding target was suggested by their lawyers as a suitable amount: “You will agree that our cases are barely the tip of the iceberg,” he said.
Chan said he decided to appear in person knowing that they may face more pressure and prosecutions.
“Police often said at their press conferences that they did not use excessive force. I do not understand whether it was excessive force when my head was beaten and bled,” he said. “I cannot agree with this. That’s why we must stand up and tell the truth.”
He said they wished to sue the officers who injured them, but they could only sue Police Commissioner Stephen Lo since individual officers did not display identification: “I believe, because of that, [officers] have a misperception that they can do whatever they like and do not have to bear personal responsibility,” he said.
Chan, Lo and Ng Hong-luen had filed a judicial review on Monday asking the court to demand that police display identification when on duty.
After being arrested, Lam Wai-kwan was sent to the San Uk Ling Holding Centre near the Chinese border with several other people.
He said that other people at the holding centre had suffered injuries that appeared to be lighter than his. But, when he was sent to a hospital, he noted people had more serious injuries.
“I am not afraid of prosecution by way of revenge,” he said. “If I was afraid, I would be sleeping at home.”
Police have consistently denied misconduct when confronted with cases at recent press conferences. Top brass have said they use the minimum force necessary and a high level of restraint as protests become increasingly violent.
Hong Kong Free Press relies on direct reader support. Help safeguard independent journalism and press freedom as we invest more in freelancers, overtime, safety gear & insurance during this summer’s protests. 10 ways to support us.