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Police officers are accountable for the force they use and their supervisors ensure that the use of force is lawful, the Government said today. The Government made the statement in response to media enquiries on an overseas media report that alleged that Police repeatedly broke their own rules and faced no consequences. It strongly refuted the claim, which is biased and misleading. The Government stressed that Police do not initiate actions against protesters and only respond with appropriate and proportionate force when protesters take part in illegal activities. Lethal weapons, including petrol bombs, catapults with steel ball bearings, explosive devices, bombs, bows and arrows have been used by radical protesters who have shown up well-equipped with helmets, shields, goggles, respirators, masks, full-body armour and protective gear. This shows their intention to stage violent protests and directly confront and attack police officers, which mitigates the effectiveness of lower-level force available to Police through standard anti-riot gear, the statement said. Police have adopted a measured and restrained approach, it said, adding that only minimum necessary force has been used in response to the blatant unlawful activities of violent protesters. The Government said the use of force is in line with international standards and that once the situation is under control, the use of force will cease. All police officers are accountable for the force they use and their supervisors are present on-site to oversee and ensure that the use of force is lawful, it said. The Government reiterated that Police have the responsibility to ensure public order and safety. Police must also safeguard the rights and freedoms of others. It pointed out that if protesters do not use violence, police officers would not have to resort to lawful use of force to defend themselves.
Apostolic Administrator of the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong John Tong presided over Christmas mass at Stanley Prison today to share his faith and blessings with inmates. Through the Correctional Services Chaplain, voluntary chaplains and visitors from religious organisations, a wide range of spiritual and social services are offered to those in custody who wish to participate regardless of their religious affiliation.
Police will implement special traffic arrangements and road closures to ensure safety during the Christmas holiday. Police Public Relations Branch Chief Superintendent Kwok Ka-chuen made the announcement at today’s press conference and explained that Police are informed about people using the internet to encourage others to cause trouble. “We are aware of some dangerous online comments inciting others to commit destructive acts like setting fire to Christmas trees in shopping malls. “Not only does this pose a serious threat to public safety, this would also wreck the joyful season that we all have a right to enjoy. “To facilitate the Christmas celebration, we will have special traffic arrangements and road closures in Central, Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui." Mr Kwok added that everyone wishes for a joyful holiday and to spend quality time with their loved ones. He urged members of the public to stay calm, obey law and order, refrain from unlawful acts that endanger public safety and listen to police instructions during celebrations.
Police today strongly condemned those who help rioters after they commit radical and violent acts, and revealed that Hong Kong is experiencing an increasing number of hard crimes.  At a press conference, Police Public Relations Branch Chief Superintendent Kwok Ka-chuen noted the significant increase in hard crimes such as burglaries, arson and armed robberies since June.  “Here in Hong Kong, we always take pride in our safety and stability. The rule of law is one core value we hold dear to our hearts. Indeed, last year, we recorded the lowest crime rate in 44 years. Such stability is one key pillar of our society.  “However very sadly, the reckless acts of rioters have pushed our rule of law to the brink of total collapse.  “Since June, there has been a significant increase in the number of hard crimes, including burglaries, arson and armed robberies. Just within this month, there have been several cases involving genuine firearms.”  Mr Kwok also cautioned people against deliberately obstructing frontline officers from carrying out their duties.  “What’s worse, some lawless people wilfully obstruct our frontline officers in carrying out their duties. For example, in Tai Po last Friday, an offender fired a shot with a pistol to attack Police. When handling this dangerous case, our officers were actually surrounded and obstructed by radicals. He added that Police strongly condemn such acts.  “Such ridiculous acts have made our work even more difficult than it already is. In the ongoing social unrest, misinformation and fake news have been used as a weapon to discredit Police.  “When rioters commit radical and violent acts, many fellows come to their aid afterwards. We strongly condemn such irresponsible and reckless acts.” 
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region passport holders may visit Uzbekistan without a visa for up to seven days starting January 1, the Immigration Department announced today. Noting Uzbekistan is along the Belt & Road, the department said the visa-free arrangement will bring greater travel convenience, and strengthen the tourism, cultural and economic ties between the two places. Including Uzbekistan, 167 countries and territories have granted visa-free access or visa-on-arrival to Hong Kong SAR passport holders.
Police today said it is high time that Hong Kong put an end to violence for good and urged people to stop challenging the rule of law. Police Public Relations Branch Chief Superintendent Kwok Ka-chuen made the remarks during a press conference, saying social unrest and widespread rioting have plunged Hong Kong into a chaotic and panic situation over the past six months. Mr Kwok said: “Almost every MTR station has suffered varying degrees of damage. The MTR University Station, for instance, was just reopened after being closed for almost one month.” He noted that main transport routes and harbour crossings have been blocked and over 700 sets of traffic lights have been damaged. “I am sure you all may ask: When will this man-made disaster come to an end? Restoring public safety and order does not count on Police’s efforts alone. Every sector of society plays an important role.” He added Police will spend every effort to give citizens a truly peaceful and merry Christmas.
The violence and vandalism in recent months sparked a crisis of confidence of our rule of law. The so-called justice lawbreaking or civil disobedience is never justified under the law. I urge all of you not to engage in any illegal activities. The Court of Final Appeal in its judgment (FACC8-10/2017) pointed out that: (1) unlawful assemblies involving violence, even a relatively low degree, will not be condoned and may justifiably attract sentences of immediate imprisonment in the future; and (2) little weight will be given to the mitigation that the offending act was committed in the exercise of constitutional rights or acts of civil disobedience because the fact of a conviction will necessarily mean the offender has crossed the line separating the lawful exercise of his constitutional rights from unlawful activity subject to sanctions and constraints. There are suggestions that deliberate lawbreaking might be considered to achieve objectives, however, this would bring a wrong concept of the rule of law. The escalated violence and vandalism in the last few months have also undermined the perception of the rule of law among the public. My colleagues and I would promote and publicise the correct concept of the rule of law to the citizens through different channels. In analysing the current situation, I hope that we all could remain reasonable and objective by keeping an open mind, being informed and considering all relevant facts before coming to a conclusion. Our rule of law has been highly regarded, and such an achievement was not easy to come by. We should all join hands to cherish and safeguard our rule of law. Abiding by the law is one of the many obligations that ought to be observed by the public. Law exists in practice but it should not only be practised by lawyers, judges and governments. More importantly, the rule of law should be observed and respected by the community as a whole. The Government would continue to be strongly committed to upholding the rule of law. Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng wrote this article and posted it on her blog on December 22.
Hongkong Post today reminded people to beware of pop-up scams with links to fake websites. It said these fake websites, impersonating those of Hongkong Post, invite people to participate in an online survey or lucky draw and request them to provide personal and credit card information to win a prize. Hongkong Post said it is currently not conducting an online survey or lucky draw, and advised people not to click on any suspicious links or pop-up windows, disclose any personal information, or make any payments. The fraudulent websites have been reported to Police, it added. Call 2921 2222 for enquiries.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government today expressed strong opposition to Taiwan authorities’ repeated unfounded claims regarding legal assistance between Hong Kong and Taiwan. Responding to media enquiries, it said Taiwan authorities are still repeatedly making irresponsible and slanderous remarks about Hong Kong, even though it clearly understands that Hong Kong has no law to provide legal assistance and surrender fugitives to Taiwan. The Hong Kong SAR Government expressed its objection and discontent with this. To combat crimes, the Hong Kong SAR Government has already provided materials to Taiwan authorities within the confines of its system. It urged Taiwan authorities not to put politics before the rule of law and use cases of Chan Tong-kai and the suspect Lam as excuses to jeopardise the rule of law. Taiwan authorities’ remarks are tantamount to requesting the Hong Kong SAR Government to violate its own laws, the statement said. Hong Kong cannot agree with Taiwan authorities’ exercising the rule of law with political considerations, it said, adding that this violates the city’s spirit of the rule of law.
All traffic lights in Hong Kong have resumed normal operation after the collaborative efforts of various departments, the Transport Department announced today. Since June, about 740 sets of traffic lights in various districts have been damaged, the department said. Some traffic lights were repeatedly damaged and the ones in Yau Tsim Mong District were the most severely affected. The damage in October and November was more serious than in earlier months, with a number of controllers and components damaged.  Relevant departments will strengthen the protection measures of traffic lights, it noted. Traffic lights play a vital role in co-ordinating traffic at junctions and ensuring road safety, the department said, adding that pedestrian traffic lights are particularly essential for the elderly and disabled. Traffic lights equipped with electronic audible traffic signals are also important to the visually impaired, it pointed out. The department appealed to the public to stop damaging traffic lights and other road facilities.