A Hong Kong lawyer has slammed the force for taking DNA samples from people arrested on suspicion of violating the newly-enforced national security law, calling it “unnecessary” and “disproportional.”

Last Wednesday, police arrested ten people for allegedly breaching legislation criminalising secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces during a protest on the 23rd anniversary of the city’s handover to China.

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Police make arrest on July 1, 2020. File photo: Kero/United Social Press.

According to an official reply to local media last Friday, officers took DNA samples from the ten arrested persons during the investigation. The force cited Article 59C 2(a) of the Police Force Ordinance, which states only an officer of or above the rank of superintendent may authorise non-intimate samples – such as saliva and hair – to be taken if there are “reasonable grounds” to suspect the person has committed a “serious arrestable offence.”

Volunteer lawyer Janet Pang, who has assisted some of the arrested persons, told local media it was “unusual” for police to obtain DNA samples from detained persons other than suspects involved in serious assaults or rape cases.

She said officers told people in custody that secession is a serious crime, therefore police had the authority to obtain DNA samples. But Pang said if the force wanted to prove the suspects had touched the flags and banners, they only needed to have their fingerprints.

“The police practice is totally unnecessary and disproportional. DNA is personal information and should be respected,” Pang told Citizen News last Friday.

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Photo: inmedia.net via CC2.0.

Pang added that police had told people to launch a judicial review – a legal challenge, considered by the Court of First Instance, which examines the decision-making processes of administrative bodies.

The suspected national security law violators were accused of possessing and displaying flags, banners and posters featuring slogans such as “Hong Kong independence,” “One nation, one Hong Kong” and “Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our times.” Police said they had allegedly breached Articles 20 and 21 of the law, which covers inciting others to commit secession.

A male motorcyclist who attached a “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” flag onto his vehicle became the first person to be charged with inciting to commit secession and terrorist activities. His case was mentioned in court last Friday.

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Kelly Ho

Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.