The Hong Kong Police Force has refused a second request to release the “written advice” handed to an officer who drove his motorbike into protesters in 2019.
HKFP submitted an Access to Information request last month to obtain the letter. It was refused on privacy grounds on July 30, but a new request was submitted requesting that the force redact all information which could identify the officer.
On Monday, police declined the updated request because the “officer concerned could be identified in open sources” and “disclosing the information without the consent of the officer concerned is not justified.”
‘Suitable written advice’
On November 11, 2019, the unidentified officer was filmed zig-zagging his bike into fleeing, black-clad protesters three times near a Kwai Fong shopping mall. It is not known if any protesters were injured but then-Commissioner of Police Chris Tang told reporters the officer concerned was under investigation.
Tang said that the fact that the officer was allowed to return to duty after being briefly put on leave was not a sign of “leniency.”
Last month, police told HKFP that the officer was handed “suitable written advice” following an investigation.
At the time of the incident, Police Public Relations Branch Chief Superintendent John Tse claimed that the officer was trying to break up the protesters who had sprayed an unknown substance into a colleague’s face. “[The motorcyclist] tried to separate his colleagues and the rioters. According to the officer, he was attacked with hammers and punched while driving.”
Introduced in 1995, the Access to Information code “authorises and requires civil servants, routinely or on request, to provide information unless there are specific reasons for not doing so,” according to the government’s website.
Protests erupted in June 2019 over an extradition bill which was later dropped. They escalated into sometimes violent displays of dissent against police behaviour, amid calls for democracy and anger over Beijing’s encroachment.
Demonstrators demanded an independent probe into police conduct, amnesty for those arrested and a halt to the characterisation of the protests as “riots.”
HKFP has requested a review of Monday’s decision.
Support press freedom & help us surpass 1,000 monthly Patrons: 100% independent, governed by an ethics code & not-for-profit, Hong Kong Free Press is #PressingOn with impartial, award-winning, frontline coverage.