IBAHRI urges Carrie Lam to open an independent investigation into police brutality in Hong Kong

Thursday 12 September 2019

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) supports the decision of the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, to withdraw the extradition bill that would have allowed suspects to be sent from Hong Kong to mainland China for trial. Nevertheless, the IBAHRI calls on Ms Lam to start an investigation into the police brutality meted out against those protesting the bill and journalists covering the humanitarian emergency.

IBAHRI Co-Chair, The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, stated: ‘The increasing brutality to which the Hong Kong protestors have been subjected has us gravely concerned. Hong Kong’s rule of law cannot and must not be eroded. The right to protest is vital in a democratic society, and human rights such as the freedom of expression and the freedom of the press should be upheld and defended.

During recent protests in Hong Kong, news reports have shown the police subjecting protestors to unprecedented violence, including firing water cannons, tear gas and ‘non-lethal’ rubber bullets, beating people with batons, drawing firearms and firing live shots. On-site paramedics and first aid teams have been targeted by the police, with a nurse who was providing first aid to a wounded protestor allegedly arrested and charged with rioting. Others are reported to have had their first aid materials seized and their stations destroyed.

Carrie Lam

Furthermore, undercover police dressed as protestors, have provoked clashes, then subdued by force and arrested genuine protestors without showing them their warrant cards. Many protestors have been detained and denied access to a lawyer for hours, including some who are underage. The latter have been denied contact with parents/guardians for excessive periods.

IBAHRI Co-Chair, Anne Ramberg Dr jur hc, stated: ‘Though we welcome Carrie Lam’s decision to withdraw the controversial extradition bill, we urge her to open an investigation into police brutality against Hong Kong citizens, as witnessed across the globe in daily news reports. Others in the international community must also speak up in defence of human rights and democracy’s sacred principles of due process and the rule of law.


Notes to the Editor

  1. The legal system of Hong Kong mirrors that of Britain. Under the policy ‘one country, two systems’, Hong Kong maintains a constitution which is known as the Hong Kong Basic Law. This Basic Law guarantees freedoms that are unavailable to Chinese people living on the mainland, for example, the right to protest, freedom of the press and freedom of speech. One of the Basic Law’s main principle states that Hong Kong ‘shall safeguard the rights and freedoms of the residents’ for 50 years after the Handover. However, many residents have stated that China’s mainland is encroaching on these rights. The residents have considered this a threat to n Hong Kong’s rule of law.
  2. The International Bar Association (IBA) – the global voice of the legal profession – is the foremost organisation for international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Established in 1947, shortly after the creation of the United Nations, it was born out of the conviction that an organisation made up of the world's bar associations could contribute to global stability and peace through the administration of justice.

    In the ensuing 70 years since its creation, the organisation has evolved from an association comprised exclusively of bar associations and law societies to one that incorporates individual international lawyers and entire law firms. The present membership is comprised of more than 80,000 individual international lawyers from most of the world’s leading law firms and some 190 bar associations and law societies spanning more than 170 countries.

    The IBA has considerable expertise in providing assistance to the global legal community, and through its global membership, it influences the development of international law reform and helps to shape the future of the legal profession throughout the world.

    The IBA’s administrative office is in London, United Kingdom. Regional offices are located in: São Paulo, Brazil; Seoul, South Korea; and Washington DC, United States, while the International Bar Association’s International Criminal Court and International Criminal Law Programme (ICC & ICL) is managed from an office in The Hague, the Netherlands.

    The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), an autonomous and financially independent entity, works to promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law, and to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession worldwide.

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