The ongoing anti-extradition bill protests have caused a deep rift in the society. Last weekend, numerous fights broke out due to people’s different political views. Stephen Hung, former President of the Law Society, pointed out that those who were engaged in the fights might be liable of the offence of fighting in public places. The onlookers who encouraged the fights by words or actions, might be liable of the offence of assisting and abetting others. Sentencing standards would be the same for both. A lighter sentence would not be given to those who only gave additional remarks or comments. He added that if citizens were in a riot scene and saw someone throwing debris and arson and did not leave, even if they did not engage in any behaviour which constituted riot, they would still be regarded as involved in the riots. “If you were an innocent bystander, you would leave, won’t you? What’s the point of staying there?” Hung asked.
People with different political views have continuously stirred up conflicts on the streets and shopping malls which started normally with arguments which then turned into fights with onlookers watching. In an interview with us, Hung said that those involved in the fights might be liable of the offence of fighting in public places. It is not illegal for onlookers to be present at the scene, However, if they encouraged others to do so such as clapping or shouting, “good job”, might be liable of assisting and abetting others to commit crimes. Once the court confirmed the fights did take place, there would be no difference in sentencing. “Just because a person does the talking only doesn’t mean that he will be given a lighter sentence.” In terms of how to distinguish between an attacker and a person being attacked. Generally speaking, the person being attacked would normally wish to leave and protect himself.
The “Lennon Walls” in various districts have long been described by the police as high-risk places. Recently, there have been numerous “clearance operations”. Hung explained that posting leaflets onto “Lennon Wall” involved civil liabilities. If the “Lennon Wall” were set up in a private place, the management company of the property has the right to clean up. Those who engaged in “Tearing off” or destroying “Lennon Wall” in public places might be liable for criminal damage. Burning them would constitute arsons.
On different occasions such as demonstrations, there were situations where citizens restrained troublemakers. Hung commented that there is a risk for citizens to perform “citizen’s arrest” as such form of arrest is only applicable to “arrestable offences” with sentences exceeding 12 months. If a citizen misjudged the situation, he might be liable for false imprisonment. Further, there were frequent scenes in protests where passers-by photographed protestors and were asked to delete photos by the protestors. Hung pointed out that there is no portrait right in Hong Kong. Photographing others does not constitute a crime. In fact, if a person refused to allow the photographer to leave, he might be liable for false imprisonment. Deleting photos from others’ phones without approval would be liable of the offence of access to computer with criminal or dishonest intent.
Public Order Ordinance stipulates that when 3 or more persons assembled together conduct themselves in a disorderly, intimidating, insulting or provocative manner intended or likely to cause any person reasonably to fear that they will commit a breach of the peace, constitutes unlawful assembly. Therefore where a large number of people gathered in the mall to sing anti-extradition songs and shout slogans. “I can’t see how just simply singing can be convicted.” Citizens who only slander the police do not break the law, because insulting police has yet to be made an offence, let alone hurling insults across the street. However, when a group of people gather and disrupt the public order, they can face prosecution for unlawful assembly without the prosecution having to prove that the assembled people know each other.
Stephen Hung also indicated that if the public is present in a riot scene and does not leave despite seeing someone throwing debris, committing arsons, even if they did not commit any riot acts, they would still be regarded as participating in the riot. Hung emphasised that it would not require pro-active participation whether in illegal assemblies or riots to be charged. He stressed that the act of throwing a petrol bomb already constitutes the offence of arson. Those involved in the riots, disregard whether they were charged of rioting or not, if the acts involved illegally demolishing or destroy of buildings, etc., shall be liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a maximum of 14 years. Rioters who unlawfully damage buildings, etc. shall be liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a maximum of 10 years.
For those protestors who ignored the injunctions and tried to obstruct the operation of the MTR and the airport, he reiterated that even if the protestors did not commit criminal offences at the MTR station and the airport, they could be charged of criminal contempt of court for causing chaos within the premises and violating the injunctions. He mentioned that if other criminal offences were committed at MTR stations and the airport, such as the destruction of MTR gates, the simultaneous violation of the injunction would become a factor for increase in sentence.
Police are often accused of “indiscriminate arrest”. Stephen Hung said that the police would only require to show subjectively that they believed that the person were suspicious, with objective conditions to support the arrest. For example, unless the police subjectively thought that someone looked like a stowaway, but objectively that person was in a cocktail reception, it would be controversial to make arrests under such circumstance.
原文轉自星島日報 ，原文連結： http://std.stheadline.com/daily/article/detail/2065507/%E6%97%A5%E5%A0%B1-%E6%B8%AF%E8%81%9E-%E7%86%8A%E9%81%8B%E4%BF%A1-%E8%BA%AB%E8%99%95%E6%9A%B4%E5%8B%95%E4%B8%8D%E9%9B%A2%E9%96%8B%E4%B9%9F%E7%8A%AF%E6%B3%95