Autistic man arrested and detained for 4 hours without “appropriate adult”

On the anniversary of 12 June, the police displayed blue flag warnings multiple times in Causeway Bay. An autistic man in his twenties was arrested for unlawful assembly. Southern District Councillor Tiffany Yuen Ka-wai said on 17 June in a press conference that the arrested was pepper sprayed, knocked down on floor and was threatened. Yuen said that Hong Kong Police Force has set out guidelines regarding Mentally Incapacitated Person (MIP), which states that an MIP attending police’s enquiry or being detained in police custody is to be accompanied by at least one appropriate adult. However, the arrestee was not accompanied for 4 hours during his detention in North Point Police Station.

The arrestee was arrested and brought to North Point Police Station for unlawful assembly when he got off from bus at Island Beverley in Causeway Bay. Yuen said another arrestee witnessed police officers shouting at the autistic arrestee to make him “sit down” and accused him that he “pretend he can’t hear”. It was 4 hours without any appropriate adult till Yuen informed his mother. The man has nightmare for several nights of being scolded at the police station.

Labour Party legislator Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung said that frontline police officers can identify MIP using different ways, such as by their expressive ability, communication style and response, or even by “Care Card”. However, as of today, more than one MIP are arrested, yet there are no figures published. There has been reported cases of police officers refusing social worker’s request to act as an appropriate adult for a potential MIP.

HKSWGU: Polilce has no respect for the fundamental rights of MIP

External Vice-President of Hong Kong Social Workers’ General Union Cheung Chi-wai says that the MIP system is based on the respect for their basic legal right, but the police only intends to suppress all social movement participants in every way. He goes on to say that MIP has a longer response time, which might be deemed as “deliberately not responding” and thus arrested, sometimes even with force. “The MIP system is only empty talk.” Hong Kong Police Force has provided one-day training for the MIP system, but Cheung is skeptical about the number of participants and training outcome. “Under such social circumstances, the training outcome may be less than satisfactory”.

Cheung also doubts if lawyers and judges would be clear about the cognitive level of the MIPs, and that they may be seen as dishonest during court answering. He expects the government to look into the process, and calls for the police to allow social workers to act as appropriate adults.

Tiffany Yuen adds that the police has been malicious in their execution of power. She would continue to file for complaints and follow up via different channels, and would add similar issues into her district council agenda.

Article 28, The Basic Law
The freedom of the person of Hong Kong residents shall be inviolable.
No Hong Kong resident shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful arrest, detention or imprisonment. Arbitrary or unlawful search of the body of any resident or deprivation or restriction of the freedom of the person shall be prohibited. Torture of any resident or arbitrary or unlawful deprivation of the life of any resident shall be prohibited.

Police (Discipline) Regulations
Part I (3), Cap. 232A, Laws of Hong Kong
(2)The offences against discipline are—
(c)conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline;
(k)unlawful or unnecessary exercise of authority resulting in loss or injury to any other person or to the Government;

Police General Orders 34-19
Handling Mentally Incapacitated Persons
According to section 2 of the Mental Health Ordinance Cap.136, a Mentally Incapacitated Person (MIP) refers to a person (a) suffering from mental disorder or (b) being mentally handicapped.
2. Irrespective of the person being a victim, witness or suspect, officers should immediately locate an appropriate adult (AA) to accompany and assist him/her in order to safeguard the interest of the MIP.
3. An AA who is present to provide support to the MIP should be served with a “Notice to Appropriate Adult” (Pol. 1150) as soon as practicable, which assists the AA in understanding his/her roles and responsibilities.

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