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Rioters are blatantly damaging the independence of the judiciary and disrespecting the rule of law, Police said today. Police Public Relations Branch Chief Superintendent Kwok Ka-chuen made the remarks at a press conference. Mr Kwok explained that some rioters threw petrol bombs outside the High Court and Court of Final Appeal yesterday. They also spray-painted the walls of the High Court, he said, adding that Police have classified both cases as arson. “These cases’ significance goes beyond the fact that arson is a criminal offence, carrying a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. “Rioters’ destructive acts serve no other purpose than to vent their anger at grievances real and imagined. “This shows rioters are blatantly damaging the independence of the judiciary and disrespecting the rule of law, one core value that every Hong Kong person takes pride in.” Mr Kwok also noted that yesterday’s police operation across the city saw eight men and three women apprehended and weapons confiscated. “A large number of weapons were seized, including a semiautomatic pistol with 100 rounds of bullets. “We believe radicals intended to deploy this arsenal during yesterday’s public order event on Hong Kong Island and to frame Police. “Most alarmingly, these deadly weapons, if deployed in the public order event, could be used for fatal attacks targeting not only Police, but anyone in the protest. “We express the strongest condemnation against this escalating violence.”
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government will not condone any acts of sabotage against the Judiciary or damage to the rule of law. In a statement, the Department of Justice said the arsons outside the Court of Final Appeal and High Court Building today not only disrupted social peace, but also undermined Hong Kong’s reputation as a city governed by the rule of law.  The department noted arson is a serious offence which poses a threat to the lives and properties of the public.  The maximum penalty upon conviction is life imprisonment. Members of the public are urged not to break the law.  It added the SAR Government will not tolerate any illegal or violent acts and called on the public to respect the rule of law.
Police are investigating the connection between the chemicals seized at Shing Mun Country Park and those stolen from the laboratories of some universities. Police Public Relations Branch Chief Superintendent Kwok Ka-chuen made the remarks at a press conference today. Mr Kwok said: “Police received a report that rioters had stolen a large number of chemicals from university laboratories and stored them in the vicinity of the Shing Mun Reservoir. “Upon investigation, we seized a total of 59 bottles of chemicals near the barbeque area of the Shing Mun Reservoir. Among these chemicals, some are highly corrosive or inflammable. Coming into contact with them will cause serious bodily harm. “Members of the public should make a report if they come across suspicious chemicals and should not come into contact with them.” He added that Police are investigating whether the chemicals are related to the thefts at the laboratories of multiple universities. “Previously, Police have received reports from universities about theft of chemicals from their laboratories. Unfortunately, we have yet to receive a full list of missing chemicals, which makes our investigation rather difficult. “We appeal to the universities concerned, to provide the relevant information to us as soon as possible.” He reminded universities to store chemicals and dangerous goods properly. Mr Kwok also noted that protesters are calling for a general strike on December 9. “I must emphasise, not only will this bring great inconvenience to the everyday life of Hong Kong people, this will also pose a grave threat to public safety when rioters build barricades and vandalise traffic lights in order to paralyse the traffic,” he said. “Please don’t let irrationality take over our daily life.”
Police today called on the organiser and participants of Sunday’s public order event on Hong Kong Island to proceed in a peaceful manner. Police Public Relations Branch Chief Superintendent Kwok Ka-chuen made the appeal at this afternoon’s press conference, noting the event has been issued a letter of no objection. “I must stress Police respect citizens’ rights to assembly and freedom of speech. We will facilitate peaceful and orderly participation in all public order events. “When deciding whether to issue a letter of no objection, we will conduct an independent safety risk assessment considering a range of operational factors. Every application is considered on a case-by-case basis.” The event will comprise a public meeting in Victoria Park, followed by a procession slated to end at Chater Road, Central. Noting that areas involved in the event will be bustling, Mr Kwok explained that crowd management will be implemented and encouraged those using public transporation to stay calm when exiting. “Police advise all participants to disperse peacefully after arriving at the finishing point at Chater Road using the MTR Central Station. “I appeal to the organiser and those who will take part in the public event to adopt peaceful and rational means of expression. “Don’t let the rioters, again, hijack the peaceful protest and take away the rights and freedom of citizens.”
The Law Reform Commission today published a report on the review of substantive sexual offences, making final recommendations for the reform of such offences in the Crimes Ordinance.  The recommendations include the creation of a range of non-consensual sexual offences such as a new offence of sexual penetration without consent, a uniform age of consent of 16 years old, the creation of a range of new sexual offences involving children and persons with mental impairment which are gender neutral. The commission also proposed the reform of a series of miscellaneous sexual offences such as incest, exposure, bestiality, necrophilia and homosexual-related buggery and gross indecency offences. The report follows a study on the overall review of substantive sexual offences by the commission’s Review of Sexual Offences Sub-committee, which issued three consultation papers in September 2012, November 2016 and May 2018.  In April this year, the commission published a report recommending the introduction of a new offence of voyeurism and a new offence in respect of non-consensual upskirt photography.  It noted the responses to the consultation papers have been taken into account in formulating the final recommendations in the two reports.
Commissioner of Police Tang Ping-keung will pay a courtesy visit to Beijing tomorrow, the first since he assumed his post last month. He will call on the Ministry of Public Security and the State Council’s Hong Kong & Macao Affairs Office.  He will also meet with his counterparts in the capital to brief them on Hong Kong’s law and order situation and exchange views on cross-boundary crimes and police co-operation. Deputy Commissioner (Operations) Siu Chak-yee will accompany Mr Tang on the visit. They will return to Hong Kong on December 8.
Journalists at the scene of a police operation should pay attention to and follow officers’ instructions and maintain an appropriate distance to prevent obstruction of enforcement operations and avoid personal injury, Secretary for Security John Lee said today. Mr Lee told lawmakers that since early June, more than 900 demonstrations were staged in Hong Kong, many of which ended up with illegal acts of serious violence, including criminal damage, arson and hurling of petrol bombs. He cited a case in which a person embedded himself among reporters and crowds to slit a police officer’s neck at close proximity, seriously injuring the officer. The personal safety of police officers on duty is under serious threat, the security chief added. Mr Lee also pointed out that during police operations, officers have encountered instances of suspected reporter impersonations, such as seizing fake reporter identifications, self-proclaimed reporters not employed by the claimed media organisations, and cases of immediately departing when questioned about their reporter credentials. He said the force has formulated guidelines for police officers to ascertain the identity of media practitioners with the credentials issued by media organisations, adding that journalists bringing along the relevant credentials or wearing easily recognisable clothing or armbands would facilitate police officers in ascertaining their identity. Police will deploy the Force Media Liaison Cadre to the scene to provide assistance as needed and disseminate timely messages to the public through the media. Complaints lodged by dissatisfied journalists will be handled by the Complaints Against Police Office and the Independent Police Complaints Council in a fair and just manner, Mr Lee added.
(To watch the video with sign language interpretation, click here.) Chief Executive Carrie Lam today said an independent review committee would probe the causes of the social unrest and make recommendations to the Government. Mrs Lam made the remarks this morning ahead of the Executive Council meeting. She said: “It has been some time ago that I announced that we would invite a group of community leaders and academia and experts to independently look into the causes of this prolonged social unrest, including the underlying deep-seated problems that have been bothering Hong Kong.  “This independent review committee will look into the causes of the social unrest and come up with recommendations for the Government because we don’t want to see the recurrence of this social disturbance in future. "So we have to tackle not only the phenomenon but also the underlying causes.” Regarding the investigation into Police’s handling of public order events, Mrs Lam said the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) has taken the initiative to conduct a thematic fact-finding study into significant incidents that have caused public concern.  “By now, the IPCC has already worked for five months. I think the best way is for the IPCC to complete its findings and for society to examine the findings and have a good discussion on the outcome of the IPCC report.”
Police today appealed to citizens to make a clean break with radicals and stop letting violence take Hong Kong hostage. At a press conference, Police Public Relations Branch Chief Superintendent Kwok Ka-chuen explained the force's operation during a public procession in Tsim Sha Tsui yesterday. “Although the organiser got a Letter of No Objection, a large number of protesters deviated from the approved route of procession. They proceeded to Hung Hom Bypass where they threw bricks and glass bottles onto the officers under the bridge. “As our warnings were all ignored, our officers had no choice but to use tear gas for dispersal. “We have stressed repeatedly that police officers are in a reactive mode. If rioters do not commit dangerous or destructive acts, there is no reason for Police to respond with force.” Mr Kwok urged citizens to join forces with Police to restore peace to the city. “I am positive that most people in society are tired of the rioting that has crippled Hong Kong over the past six months. “No political slogan can glorify or justify hard crimes like arson, criminal damage, and assault. The ongoing unrest has taken a heavy toll on society. If we do not make a clean break with all radicals, everyone will be a victim. We should stop letting violence take us hostage. “Keeping the peace is not the sole responsibility of Police. Every person in society can be a peace broker. It is time to let conversation replace conflict, to let dialogue replace division.”
People participating in protests are urged to follow Police instructions to leave the protest site when violent acts occur. Police Senior Superintendent (Operations) Wong Wai-shun issued the advice during a press conference today, adding that officers would not use force if not faced with violence. “Police have no choice. We will not use force if there is no violence in front of us. Before we use force, we will give a warning. And people there have their responsibility and their duty to co-operate with Police. Leave there. “The main problem is why people bring these people in? Do they care about their children? Do they care about these elderly? I am not saying the elderly are a problem, I am not saying the children are a problem. But if the situation turns violent, I do not think good people should stay there.” He urged people to leave as soon as possible if rioters started to cause trouble at the protest site. “That is common sense and that is logic. That is what we teach our children. They should not break the law. That is the rule of law in Hong Kong. That is why Police use CS (tear gas).”