Not one out of more than 8,600 complaints made against judges or judicial officers last year was deemed to be justified or partly justified, according to a report by Hong Kong’s judiciary which also said defendants on average wait almost a year to have cases heard in district court.

The report published on Monday said 8,625 of the 8,720 complaints received were pursuable but none of them were found to be justified or partially justified. It said four “social event court cases” generated 8,595 of the 8,720 complaints.

Court of Final Appeal
Court of Final Appeal. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

The number of complaints handled in 2022 was a 295 per cent increase from 2021’s 2,205 complaints.

Among the 8,625 pursuable cases, 73 related to “attitude and behaviour in court,” 8,542 were about the handling of proceedings and ten were “of a mixed nature.”

Increasing waiting time

Waiting times grew at the city’s District Court last year. On average, it took 354 days for a criminal case to proceed from first appearance to a hearing, a 67-day increase from 2021 and 254 days more than the target of 100 days.

The report cited difficulties such as the Covid-19 pandemic and an “increasing number of complicated cases,” especially those linked to the 2019 protests and to national security.

district court
Photo: Almond Li/HKFP.

“In 2022, court operations were fraught with particular challenges from the onset of the 5th wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in the first half of the year which hit hard on manpower supply at all levels of court,” the report read.

The city saw an unprecedented wave of Covid-19 infections in early 2022. Court proceedings were suspended in March.

Over 10,000 people were arrested over the 2019 extradition bill protests, which erupted in June 2019 over a since-axed extradition bill. They escalated into sometimes violent displays of dissent against police behaviour, amid calls for democracy and anger over Beijing’s encroachment.

More than 7,000 have yet to be prosecuted. Lawmakers have quoted Secretary for Security Chris Tang as saying the administration will soon make a decision on whether to charge around 6,000 of them.

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Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.