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Customs today rejected online rumours claiming that Police arrested a customs officer following the seizure of arms in the officer's locker. The department expressed regret over the intentional spread of the confusing and unfounded rumours. Staff guidelines regulate moral and disciplinary matters, it said, adding that there are also strict requirements for officers' conduct and integrity. It stressed that follow-up action will be taken if there is any violation of laws and regulations.
The Government today strongly condemned rioters for breaching public peace on New Year’s Day. In a statement, the Government said rioters conducted violent and illegal acts during and after the public procession on Hong Kong Island on January 1. The procession was generally orderly at the beginning, but rioters took the opportunity to block roads, trash traffic lights, hurl bricks and petrol bombs and set fires. They also vandalised several banks and shops, endangering people at the scene. Taking public safety into consideration, Police ended the procession early and used appropriate and minimum force to disperse the rioters and make arrests. It is worrying that rioters have used peaceful participants of processions as their cover and conducted illegal and violent acts during or after processions, it said. The Government emphasised it respects the peaceful expression of views by members of the public and appealed to people not to condone violence. Some people even launched personal attacks and insults against a judge and defaced the High Court during the procession, the Government said, adding Police will take follow-up actions in accordance with the law. Judicial independence is an essential element of the rule of law as well as the cornerstone of Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability, it said. The Government pointed out that Hong Kong people respect the courts, judges and judicial proceedings and do not accept that anyone exerts pressure on judges or the courts. On the waving of flags advocating Hong Kong independence by some rally organisations and participants, the Government strongly condemned such acts, which are against the constitutional order of Hong Kong and the overall interest of society. “One country, two systems”, “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong” and a high degree of autonomy are the established basic policies of the People’s Republic of China regarding Hong Kong. Advocating Hong Kong independence is inconsistent with the constitutional and legal status of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region as stipulated in the Basic Law. Some procession participants also waved flags of foreign countries, the statement noted. The Government rejects interference by foreign countries in any form in the internal affairs of the city. It said members of the public should not encourage such countries to do so. The Government added that it will not turn a blind eye to unconstitutional acts and called on people to treasure Hong Kong’s unique advantages under "one country, two systems" and not do anything that would hurt the feelings of the Chinese people.
Police today cited public safety as the reason behind its decision to cut short a public procession on New Year’s Day. During a press conference in the afternoon, Police Public Relations Branch Chief Superintendent Kwok Ka-chuen said Police maintained close communication with the procession organiser. He said: “It was evident that the organiser soon lost control of how the event would develop as it was hijacked by rioters to wreak havoc along the route. “So we asked the organiser to cut short the procession at 5.30pm and gave them time to disperse the crowds peacefully. “This decision was certainly in the interest of public safety. The violence that broke out at various locations would have posed a grave threat to the safety of all participants.” He pointed out that Police gave multiple warnings and sufficient time for people to leave before using force, including tear gas to disperse remaining participants. “Our repeated warnings fell on deaf ears and that is why our intervention was necessary. “We must reiterate that no one has the privilege to stay in a riot when police officers have given repeated warnings for people to leave. “You can claim to be a first aider, a human rights observer, you name it. But this does not give you any exemption from the legal liability of taking part in a riot.” Police intercepted 464 people and released about one-third of them after initial investigations, he added.
Masked rioters hijacked the January 1 public procession and committed alarming acts of vandalism. Police Public Relations Branch Chief Superintendent Kwok Ka-chuen made the statement during today’s press conference. Mr Kwok explained that even though the procession began in a peaceful manner, many people were apprehended. “Even before the event began at around 2.20pm, Police made several arrests for possession of offensive weapons. A teenager as young as 13 years old was found to possess an extendable baton and hammer. “This indeed as a bad omen for the public event that followed. Masked rioters hijacked the procession and started to cause trouble soon after the procession started.” Mr Kwok added that throughout the day, rioters blocked roads, smashed traffic lights, vandalised shops and banks, and launched attacks on police officers with petrol bombs and different weapons. “In one of the most alarming cases, rioters spray-painted offensive words on the outer wall of the High Court to insult a judge. This kind of attack will make a dent in the spirit of the law and threaten the independence of the Judiciary. “Some other rioters set fire to the lion statues of a bank and vandalised its facilities. They also ransacked targeted coffee shops that were unsupportive of their illegal acts. “It is very ironic that these rioters claim to be fighting for freedom but are depriving others of their freedom to do business in Hong Kong.” Mr Kwok then reiterated that police officers did not commit any destructive acts and described such accusations as a smear campaign. “The most despicable thing is the supporters of these rioters took press interviews and accused Police of committing such destructive acts. “They made up false accounts to smear Police and confuse the public. We strongly rebut such allegations as totally false and groundless. “What’s worse, some unethical media quoted these rumour-mongers and spread fake news. This is an organised and ill-intentioned smear campaign to discredit Police and jeopardise our operational efficiency.”
Police today rebutted rumours that accused police officers of smashing the glass of a bank this afternoon. The Force pointed out that at around 4pm, black-clad masked rioters smashed the glass of a bank on Hennessy Road in Wan Chai and the case is under investigation. Police explained that some online media and social groups have quoted rumour mongers as saying police officers were responsible. Police strongly rebut such a groundless and fabricated allegation and express regret over such rumours which are calculated to discredit Police. Police added that they will bring offenders to justice.
Personal attacks and insults against judges would severely undermine the authority of the courts and damage public confidence in the judicial system, the Department of Justice said today. It made the statement in response to vandalism outside the High Court Building and criticism against a judge today, stressing that judicial independence is an essential element of the rule of law. It said the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government respects the freedom of speech of individuals. Members of the public have the right to express their views on court decisions and related matters within the boundary permitted by the law. The statement also quoted the Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal’s remarks at last year’s ceremonial opening of the legal year as saying: “It is no part of a court's function or duty to adjudicate on political or social issues, nor economic ones, whether siding with one extreme or another, or finding some sort of middle ground to solve the community's political, social or economic concerns. “Rather, at all times, the court is concerned with dealing with one aspect and one aspect only: a resolution of the legal issues arising in the dispute before it.” The statement pointed out that any person who is dissatisfied with court decisions may lodge appeals through the existing mechanism and should not criticise judges abusively or impute them of political bias, otherwise, the rule of law in Hong Kong would be undermined. Meanwhile, Police strongly condemned such an unlawful act which defies the spirit of the law and stressed that it has classified the case as criminal damage and will enforce the law impartially.
Police today expressed alarm that criminals encouraged youngsters to commit crimes over the weekend, revealing the spread of lawlessness among juveniles. Police Public Relations Branch Chief Superintendent Kwok Ka-chuen made the statement at this afternoon’s press conference. Mr Kwok said: “Over the weekend, during our arrest operation, we arrested a large number of youngsters and are very alarmed that some criminals incited youngsters to commit crime.” He added that Police also came across cases where teachers led students in criminal acts. “These show the spreading of lawlessness among youngsters, who are impressionable and easily misguided by criminals.” In response, Mr Kwok said Police are maintaining close communication with community service groups to provide assistance to youngsters. “For example, Police participate in the Community Support Service Scheme run by the Social Welfare Department and NGOs (non-governmental organisations). “Police will refer underage arrested persons to the department and NGOs, given that they and their guardians have given consent. They will provide professional support and counselling services.”
Police today urged those taking part in a major public event, proposed by the Civil Human Rights Front scheduled for January 1, to be rational and peaceful. Police Public Relations Branch Chief Superintendent Kwok Ka-chuen made the statement at a press briefing. Police always respect citizens’ freedom of speech and assembly, he explained, adding that the force is also duty-bound to maintain law and order. Mr Kwok said: “To prevent history from repeating itself, we have maintained very close communication with the organiser of a major public event to be held on Hong Kong Island on January 1. “We appeal to the organiser and all participants to remain rational and peaceful during the public event. Public safety should be the top priority.”
Police today clarified that they have a well-established mechanism to deal with complaints. Police Public Relations Branch Chief Superintendent Kwok Ka-chuen made the remarks at a news conference. Mr Kwok said: "We are aware that one man told the press that he received a letter from Police asking him to make a statement regarding a complaint against Police within 30 days, or else the investigation will be curtailed.” He noted that such an accusation is false because the letter in question pertains to another case involving the same person. “Due to privacy concerns, I can't comment further, but I can assure you that this incident has nothing to do with the ongoing protests.” Mr Kwok added that the Complaints Against Police Office has no plan to terminate the investigation into the relevant complaint report.
Police strongly condemned rioters who inflicted extensive damage on various shopping centres in Sheung Shui and Kowloon Bay over the past two days. At today’s press conference, Police Public Relations Branch Chief Superintendent Kwok Ka-chuen said masked rioters vandalised shops and restaurants, and harassed shoppers and diners, young and old. In the small hours of yesterday, rioters even hurled petrol bombs at a targeted restaurant that they thought was unsupportive of their extremist views, he added. “Rioters are terrorising the public with their triad-like tactics - whoever disagrees with their violence will be met with violence. “They claim to be fighting for their rights but they are actually trampling others’ rights to enjoy peace and safety. “They claim to be fighting for freedom but they are depriving others of their freedom to express dissenting views. “They claim to be fighting for justice but they are taking justice into their own hands. “Police strongly condemn all these unlawful and immoral acts of rioters.”