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30 November 2019 open letter from the legal profession to Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam


(Please scroll down for Chinese translation 繁体中文请往下滑).


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Open Letter to the Chief Executive HKSAR

Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, GBM, GBS Chief Executive The Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region The People’s Republic of China

Dear Chief Executive,

We write in our capacities as individual members of the legal profession and as ordinary members of the Hong Kong community, to express our shock and disappointment at the lack of any meaningful and constructive action taken by your administration to bring about a peaceful solution to the ongoing protests. It is clear that the current strategy of using force has not brought about the intended result of stopping the protests and restoring stability. Despite this, we are alarmed by calls to you from members of the public, including from those who profess to speak on behalf of the legal profession, to escalate the use of force to restore peace, even if it is excessive, unjustified, or illegal.

More force is not the solution ----------------------------------------------

We strongly condemn violence and law breaking perpetrated by anyone, and we do not believe more force is the answer. Therefore, those urging you to use even more oppressive means to crackdown on protesters are wrong and have been proven wrong over the last few months. They either misunderstand or refuse to acknowledge the true causes of people’s frustrations or the underlying complexities driving the current situation. Categorising them as “terrorists” or attempting to silence the community’s genuine grievances with force just leaves the real causes unresolved and only invites future retribution.

This cannot be the way forward and while we do not condone the violence by the protestors, we can also not support the unfettered use of force, including lethal force, by the Police Force. As members of the legal profession, we are steadfastly dutybound to uphold the rule of law and the due administration of justice. This includes a system of checks and balances, a presumption of innocence, and a right to due process, which make up the bedrock of our legal system and are enshrined in the Basic Law under ‘One Country Two Systems’.

Given this, it is equally (if not more) important that the Hong Kong Police Force also observes the bounds of the law. The Police Force, traditionally viewed as guardians of the peace, is now considered by some (including some inside the force itself) as thinking it is above the law, beyond accountability and free to act without consequences. The Police Force’s indiscriminate, continuous and blatant use of force against civilians, medics, journalists and protesters, forced illegal entry into private premises, are an affront to our legal system and Hong Kong’s values. Such acts of lawbreaking must be stopped if order is to be restored and we believe it is within your power to make this happen immediately.

Stop the cycle of hate ----------------------------------

We are also alarmed by increasingly militant and toxic public discourse, magnified by a 24-hour news cycle and social media that only serves to deepen divisions between families, neighbours, colleagues and friends. These include such acts as calling, and encouraging others to call, large sections of the community who engage in peaceful public protests “cockroaches”. Or the “doxxing” of Police Force and the threatening of their family and children. Such actions are wrong and only serve to dehumanise the victim, be it our fellow residents or our uniformed officers. If left unchecked, it will only perpetuate a cycle of hate and further fuels the violence, leaving Hong Kong at risk of falling into permanent cycles of sectarian violence. This needs to stop immediately, before it becomes irreversible.

Therefore, we hope that you will join with us and call upon the small number of protestors who have resorted to violence to return to peaceful demonstrations and to respect those with different views. Equally, we hope you will call on the Police Force to stop the unlawful use of force and blatant disregard of the Police General Orders by certain officers. In doing so, we hope that you and all members of your administration can lead by example and reframe the content of public discourse by avoiding inflammatory language and dehumanising labels.

Towards a peaceful way forward ---------------------------------------------------

We know that condemnation alone has not and will not resolve this situation nor will pointing out the dangers ahead. The current crisis is a political one, in need of a political solution. Challenging times requires you, as the city’s leader, to take responsibility to find a solution. We implore you to do that and to show strength as a leader, by taking bold steps to de-escalate the situation and to give peace a chance. We therefore respectfully make the following suggestions for your consideration:

1. Publicly declare a standstill. The escalation towards the use of lethal force must be stopped We ask that you stop the spiral of violence by immediately declaring to all parties that you would like a moratorium on all forms of lawbreaking, brutality, disruption, and violence in order to make room for you to lay out a timetable for an inquiry and to establish a process for constructive dialogue. This moratorium must call a stop to all illegal acts by protesters and Police, and their respective supporters. It should last at least until after an agreed process can be found to end this crisis. In a gesture of goodwill, we ask that you call the Police to suspend their operations against the protestors, including a tactical withdrawal from the universities, and return to their stations immediately for a limited period of time, say 48 hours, to give the protestors time to match your gesture with theirs. While we understand that this would be politically difficult, somebody needs to take the first step to call a ceasefire.

2. Set a clear timetable to an independent Inquiry. Given the Government’s own panel on the Independent Police Complaint Commission has said that it does not have sufficient jurisdiction or power to investigate the current complaints made against the Police, the Government should set out a timetable to establishing an independent commission of inquiry. We support the Government in establishing an Inquiry with wide ranging power and scope to ensure that it fully examines the entire situation since these demonstrations began and so that it will be able to propose wholistic solutions, openly and with legitimacy. Such an inquiry will also provide an opportunity for law enforcement to explain its position and why it considers its use of force has been proportionate and legitimate. While we do not speak on behalf of them, it is significant to note that many sectors of the community, including The Bar Association and the Law Society, have already expressed support such an inquiry on various occasions.

3. Enter into meaningful and constructive process. You will no doubt be frustrated like many in the community that there has been little meaningful and constructive engagement over the last six months between the increasingly polarized factions. There should now be a concerted effort to find a process through which everyone can engage with, so that we can agree a roadmap to a resolution in a way that overcomes the current animosity, restores trust, and rebuilds harmony in our society and in the Government. We invite you to consider appointing a council of neutral mediators (who have no political affiliations and are drawn from across the community) to facilitate the establishment of a suitable process for dialogue or negotiations. Whilst the protest movement is declared to be leaderless, there will nonetheless be many ways for the Government to participate in a structured process conducted through intermediaries, including those who may wish to remain anonymous. We implore the Government to be flexible in its approach and consider any creative non-violent means that would allow all parties to achieve a peaceful resolution to the current situation, without preconditions.

Yours faithfully,

As of 21:00 on 30 November 2019, 452 people have signed this open letter. Approximately half of the signees are members of the legal profession. This list will be updated periodically. 截至2019年11月30日21:00,已有452人簽署本公開信。大約一半的簽名者是香港法律專業人士。我們將定期更新本清單。



行政長官 林鄭月娥女士, 紫荊勳賢(GBM),金紫荊星章(GBS) 中華人民共和國香港特別行政區政府

我們以法律界個別成員及香港社區普通成員的身份致函。對於政府未有就本港持續的抗議活動,採取任何有意義及具建設性的積極行動以尋求和平解決方法,我們深表震驚及失望。現時政府使用武力的策略,顯然沒有達到平息抗議活動及恢復社會穩定的預期效果。儘管如此,我們卻注意到某些公衆人士(包括聲稱代表法律界發言的人士)向特首呼籲將武力升級,無需顧及武力使用是否過度、不合理或違法,以期恢復平穩。對此倡議我們感到萬分憂慮。

加大武力并非解決方法 ------------------------------------

我們强烈譴責任何人的暴力及違法行爲,並且我們認爲加大武力並非解決問題的答案。某些人向特首倡議採用更具壓迫性的手段鎮壓抗議活動,我們認爲這觀點絕對錯誤,而過去幾個月的經驗正印證此點。提出採用壓迫性鎮壓手段的該等人士,要不是誤解便是拒絕承認群衆不滿憤怒情緒的真正源由以及導致現狀的根本複雜因素。將群衆歸類為「恐怖分子」或企圖以武力鎮壓社會上的真正訴求,只會讓真正的問題無法解決並惹來更多負面後果。

讓情況繼續朝這方向發展,絕對不是辦法。雖然我們並不縱容示威者的暴力行爲,但我們亦絕不能支持警隊對武力(包括致命武力)的不受限制使用。作爲法律界成員,我們對維護法治及秉行公義負有堅定不移的義務。這包括權力制衡、無罪推定以及遵循正當法律程序的權利,因爲這不但是我們法律制度的基石,更是基本法下「一國兩制」所奉行的原則。

有鑒於此,香港警隊遵從法律限制行事亦同樣(甚至更爲)重要。警隊以往一向被視爲和平的守護者,然而現在卻有人(包括某些警隊内部人員)認爲警隊已凌駕於法律之上,超越問責制,並可任意妄爲而無需承擔任何後果。警隊對平民、救護員、記者及示威者任意、持續並公然地使用武力,强行非法進入私人場所,這些種種是對我們法律制度和香港價值的公然挑戰。若要香港恢復秩序,此等違法行爲必須停止。我們認爲特首完全有權力立即制止上述行爲。

停止仇恨惡性循環 -----------------------------

社會上日趨好戰的有害公開言論令我們非常擔憂,這加上24小時的新聞報導及社交媒體,進一步深化了家庭、鄰居、同濟及朋友之間的分歧。上述有害行爲包括將(並鼓勵他人將)社會中許多參加和平公衆示威活動的人稱爲「曱甴」,或對警務人員進行人肉搜索(即「doxxing」,亦稱「起底」)並威脅他們的家人及子女。這些行爲極爲不當,只會貶低受害者(不論是普通市民還是制服人員)的人性。若不加以制止,這將延續仇恨的惡性循環並進一步加劇暴力,令香港面臨陷入持續宗派暴力循環的風險。這種情況在無法挽救之前必須立即停止。

因此,我們希望特首響應我們的要求,呼籲少數付諸暴力的示威者回復和平的示威手法,並且尊重持不同意見的人士。同樣,我們亦希望特首呼籲警隊停止使用非法武力以及某些警員公然漠視《警察通例》的做法。與此同時,我們希望特首及政府的所有成員能夠以身作則,避免使用偏激的字眼及貶低人性的標籤,從而讓公衆的言論返回理性的框架。

走向和平道路 ----------------------

我們知道純粹譴責暴力或指出前路的危險根本不能解決現時的狀況,過去如此,將來亦如此。當前的危機是一個政治危機,需要以政治解決。在困難的時刻,身爲香港特首的您必須承擔責任,尋求解決方法。我們懇請您肩負起特首的重責並彰顯領導力,採取積極進取的措施以平息現狀,給予社會一個恢復和平的機會。

有鑒於此,我們謹提出以下建議,望特首予以慎重考慮:

1. 公開宣布停止行動。步向致命武力的升級行動必須停止。我們懇請特首制止暴力的惡化,立即向各界宣布要求所有形式的違法、濫暴、破壞及暴力行爲全面暫停,從而讓您能夠編排出獨立調查的時間表,並制定展開建設性對話的流程。此次暫停行動必須由示威者、警方以及雙方各自的支持者共同參與,並最少應持續至各方商定出解決本次危機的流程爲止。為表善意,我們懇請特首呼籲警隊立即暫停針對示威者的行動(包括從各大學校園策略性地撤退),並返回警署留守一段有限的時間(如48小時),從而讓示威者能以同樣的行動表達善意。我們理解這一做法在政治上有一定的難度,但目前總得有人先走出停火的第一步。

2. 編排清晰的獨立調查時間表。日前,政府就獨立監察警方處理投訴委員會(「監警會」)所設立的專家小組表示,監警會缺乏權力及調查能力,不足以處理現時針對警方的投訴。有鑒於此,政府應就設立獨立調查委員會編排出清晰的時間表。我們支持政府設立權力及範圍廣泛的調查委員會,確保該委員會公開合法地全面調查從抗議活動開始時起的整體情況,以期就整體全面的解決方法提出建議。此調查將為執法部門提供一個機會,讓其能清楚闡明立場並解釋基於何種理由認爲所使用的武力適當且合法。

雖然我們並不代表社會各界發言,但有多個團體(包括大律師公會及香港律師會)已曾多次表示支持獨立調查。 3. 展開有意義且具建設性的過程。過去六個月來,日益分化的各黨派之間幾乎沒有作出任何有意義及具建設性的對話。毫無疑問,特首與廣大群衆一樣亦感到萬分沮喪及惆悵。現時社會理應尋求一個各界人士均可參與的過程,以共同達成一套解困路線圖,剋服目前的敵對狀況,並恢復各方間的信任以及社會和政府的和諧。我們建議特首考慮委派一個由(無政黨關係且來自社會各階層的)中立調解員所組成的委員會,協助制定對話或談判的適當流程。據稱近日的抗議活動並無領袖,但政府其實仍有許多渠道可通過中間人(包括希望保持匿名的中間人)參與有組織的過程。我們懇請政府採取靈活的應變方式,深入考量任何具創意的非暴力措施,以期讓各方達成無條件的和平解決方法,走出當前困局。

此致





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