Five human rights observers of Civil Rights Observer were arbitrarily arrested since November 2019 Prosectution is still not withdrawn
24 human rights organizations wrote an open letter to the Chief Executive Carrie Lam on the 11th of February, stating that five human rights observers were arrested by police at demonstrations while undergoing observation, which violated the International human rights laws and guidelines. They suspect whether the Hong Kong government and police are fulfilling their international responsibility to safeguard the freedom of assembly, and demand that criminal investigation on those observers should stop at once, to withdraw prosecution and return their properties.
These organizations point out that two of the arrested human rights observers are from Rights exposure. They were arrested at around the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in November 2019 for participating in a riot. The remaining three are from Civil Rights Observer, they were arrested for unlawful assembly outside SOGO at Causeway Bay in January 2020. These five observers were wearing differentiable uniforms for observers and work permit, their actions at that time were not affecting police officers’ operation. Two of the observers from Civil Rights Observer were in custody for 20 hours and 36 hours each before they were allowed to meet with their lawyers. All of the observers were verbally abused by police officers because of their identity of human rights observers.
The spokesman of Civil Rights Observer Wong-ho-yin points out that the hostility towards journalists and human rights observers from Hong Kong police is something to be worry about. Not only does it threaten their work, it also hinders the freedom of the press. He condemns that the Hong Kong police is reluctant to be supervised by the public from the incident. The co-founder of Rights Exposure, Robert Godden, emphasizes that according to International Laws and Guidelines, human rights observers have the legal rights to observe demonstrations, disregarding whether the police is determining that activity as illegal and undergoing eviction. He criticizes the arrests of the human rights observers are arbitrary and violating the Hong Kong government’s International Human Rights Responsibility.
Civil Rights Observer, Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor, Amnesty International, and Rights Exposure joint their signatures on an open letter, that gains 20 international human rights organizations’ support, demanding the Hong Kong government to respect, safeguard and boost human rights observers to conduct observations, and to stop criminal investigations and withdraw prosecutions on those five arrested observers immediately, as well as to return their personal properties and observing equipments. The organizations, as stated in the letter, also urge the government to carry out an independent, fair, effective and rapid investigation, regarding to the abuse of force from law enforcers in the Anti-Extradition Bill Movement, including the accusation of abusing force in demonstrations since 12th of June from the Hong Kong Police, and torturing people in custody, or treating them inhumanely, and those unjust acts on reporters and human rights observers.
The Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, Article 28:
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.