Private prosecutions, Public concerns
Updated: Jun 22, 2020
Some recent news stories in Hong Kong (HK) have centred around Democratic Party legislator Ted Hui Chi-fung who has successfully initiated several private prosecutions in the city.
WTPOHK applaud the efforts of this lawmaker!
Amid the kerfuffle over the imposition of National Security legislation by Central Government in Beijing, the Secretary for Justice, Teresa Cheng, expressed her concern about private prosecutions in a blog on the Department of Justice (DOJ) website. She stated that private prosecutions made under common law might be open to abuse, and that those which are groundless or frivolous or brought out of improper motives or political considerations should not be condoned. She hinted that the DOJ could consider 'intervening' in a string of high-profile private prosecution proceedings initiated in recent months, including those related to last year’s social unrest.
In response, Ted Hui said Cheng barely mentioned how the ability to bring a private prosecution is a safeguard for the public's basic rights, and he questioned her comments on how there can be no political considerations at play.
"If you look back to all the documents ever issued by the DOJ, and by the director of public prosecutions, politics was never an element when it came to abusing judicial procedures," Hui said.
"I believe that Teresa Cheng is paving her way to intervene so that all the prosecutions against the government can be taken over."
People Power lawmaker Ray Chan, meanwhile, has accused Cheng of putting pressure on the courts to reject such cases. He has filed an application for a private prosecution against pro-Beijing rival Kwok Wai-keung over an alleged assault in Legco last month.
But New People's Party legislator Eunice Yung, who is a barrister, says there is no reason for any concern about the DOJ taking over or even terminating a private prosecution. That's because anyone who disagrees with such a move can contest the decision in court, she said.
Since protests began in the city in June 2019 there have been zero police arrested and prosecuted for assault or other charges against protesters.
By taking the rare stance of accepting a private prosecution the courts have now indicated that justice is NOT being done in HK under the Department of Justice. They are showing that the Secretary of Justice is clearly conflicted in her role as the final decision maker for all prosecutions. Even if the DOJ acted to quash these private prosecutions now, it's too late as Ted Hui has already scored his point against the Department.
WTPOHK believe the very narrow focus of the Police and DOJ on arrests and prosecutions, is missing the bigger picture of justice and the law as it stands in HK. There is blithe talk about the 'rule of law' in the Special Administrative Region, yet very little attention is being paid to how well the existing laws are functioning, how effectively they can be enforced, or their scope. For example, there are a myriad of international conventions to which HK is a signatory, but has thus far failed to make the necessary legal and statutorial amendments to meet its obligation. On a raft of legal matters governance in HK has been criticised for being too slow to act.
We have already noted that the word of law in HK is in fact being twisted and manipulated beyond its intended purpose (see our blog "Lawfare not warfare").
PRIVATE PROSECUTION BACKGROUND RULES
A private prosecution is a criminal proceeding initiated by an individual private citizen or private organisation instead of by a public prosecutor who represents the state. Private prosecutions are allowed in many jurisdictions under common law. They have become less frequent in modern times as most prosecutions are now handled by professional public prosecutors such as the secretary for justice in HK, instead of private individuals who retain (or are themselves) barristers.
The Magistrates Ordinance allows residents to act independently of the secretary for justice to lodge criminal complaints, though the justice minister can intervene to take over or abort the case.
The Magistrates Ordinance empowers those individuals not acting on behalf of the secretary for justice to initiate their own criminal prosecutions in the capacity of either a complainant or informant.
The complainant must prove to the court there is sufficient evidence to begin proceedings, before the magistrate issues a summons to the proposed defendant to appear in court.
Only a few cases are privately prosecuted every year, as opposed to the tens of thousands the secretary for justice brings. The private prosecutions are very rare, and ultimate control rests with the secretary for justice, who can choose to take over the case at any point or stop it entirely by refusing to endorse the indictment.
ISSUE: In most leading democracies the public prosecutors are headed by a career civil servant, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), because a Minister of Justice would be a political appointee. The point is there must NOT be any political or other conflicts of interest for justice to be served. In HK, however, the Secretary of Justice who is a political appointee is the final decision maker, therefore all prosecutions in HK must be considered acts of political persecution!
ISSUE: HK legislation, policy and practices do NOT conform 100% to the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which it MUST do! The single strongest most powerful international law is the ICCPR which has NOT been fully legislated for, or supported by policies, or by practices in HK. Instead of the rule of law in HK we have arbitrary prosecutions brought by the political appointee - the Secretary of Justice instead of the DPP controlling prosecutions.
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12 June 2020, RTHK, Hui was one of dozens of people arrested during protests to mark the anniversary of the June 12 clashes last year in Admiralty, which came at the start of the city's current unrest.
TV footage showed police officers grab Hui and he was later seen with his hands zip-tied behind his back. The legislator said he had been arrested on suspicion of unlawful assembly.
"It was absurd. It was arbitrary and unlawful. Because I was just giving an interview, being asked questions by the media. Meanwhile, they pulled me away and arrested me," Hui told reporters on Saturday afternoon. "So I deem it to be retaliation for my earlier lawsuit against the police, in the form of a private prosecution. I think it's very obvious, considering the time and the nature of the arrest last night and I condemn the police for such an arbitrary arrest."
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The private prosecutions initiated by Ted Hui are related to three separate matters, all of which concern the welfare of protesters:
Case 1. The tear gas used against protesters
Case 2. The police shooting of a protester
Case 3. A taxi-driver who drove into protesters
Ted Hui told SCMP that he had received HK$3.4 million from about 8,000 donors through crowdfunding to support the various investigations.
In considering these private prosecutions brought by Ted Hui we can start to see why HK’s Department of Justice might be reluctant to press any charges, and what success in the court may potentially mean to the protagonists - protesters, defendants, police and the government.
Private Prosecutions like the ones under consideration here are controlled by the Secretary of Justice in HK, Teresa Cheng, according to the Basic Law. But aggrieved citizens are allowed to bring private prosecutions against others under the common law, the legal system adopted in the colonial era.
Lawyer Victor Yeung Siu-yin, who has helped Ted Hui with these Private Prosecutions, said they could still face one more hurdle if the secretary for justice intervened and required the charges to be dropped, or refused to endorse the indictment.
University of Hong Kong law scholar Eric Cheung Tat-ming said unless there was a lack of evidence or it was not in the public interest to do so, the justice department should not intervene.
Yeung said his team would ask the court to move the police officer’s case to the High Court for trial by jury.
A spokesman from the Department of Justice said the minister had a duty to discontinue cases with no reasonable prospect of conviction, that were contrary to the public interest, or were brought for political reasons in a way that constituted injustice. But he added it was inappropriate to comment on an ongoing individual case.
A police spokesman declined to comment, citing ongoing legal proceedings.
The public's right to know
For weeks back in 2019 public debate raged over the HK Police Force (HKPF) use of teargas during demonstrations. It's a 'non-lethal' weapon that is not without controversy, especially when guidelines on its use are ignored. For example, there was general dismay when the HK police were found to be using expired tear gas on some occasions last year, and some pharmacists asked if expired tear gas might release the poison cyanide.
In fact what had begun as a peaceful protest of about a million marchers on 12 June 2019, descended into scuffles and skirmishes with the police after the first round of tear gas was fired at demonstrators on the command of Senior Police Officer Rupert Dover. Finally, on 9 June 2020, the High Court set the ball rolling on a private prosecution begun by Ted Hui aimed at forcing the police to reveal the chemical content of tear gas they fire at protesters. To date Police and health officials have repeatedly refused to reveal the chemical components of tear gas, citing security and operational reasons. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has now been ordered to submit the police's affidavit within 35 days in order to prepare for a hearing to take place.
When Democratic Party legislator Ted Hui Chi-fung filed his case at the High Court in mid-January 2020, he explained that while law and order was important, the maintenance of public health deserved a higher priority.
“We have received a lot of complaints from local residents [on the after effects of tear gas],” Hui, who is also a member of the Central and Western District Council, said. He added public fear of the harmful effects of tear gas ranged from its potential carcinogenicity to possible adverse effects on pregnant women.
The heavy and prolonged use of tear gas by Police in Hong Kong — one of the world’s most densely populated cities and known for its concrete jungle of high-rises — is unusual and has sparked health fears among many of those directly and indirectly effected.
At the end of October 2019 residents of Tuen Mun were drawn into direct conflict with Police after they protested a mysterious and sickening smell that, according to the HK government "may have" wafted into their neighbourhood from the nearby Tsing Shan Firing Range operated by the PLA. WTPOHK blogs says otherwise 'Truth unmasked!' part 1 and part 2.
In November 2019 HK's health chief asserted that there was no evidence to back the claims that tear gas poses major public health and environmental risks.
“We have conducted internal studies on whether tear gas will produce dioxin or cyanide,” Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan told the Legislative Council (LegCo) at a Q&A session. “We found no evidence based on existing research and academic literature that tear gas will generate dioxin.”
Given the low level of trust in the Lam government, and peoples' firsthand experience of repeated exposure to tear gas, the health chief's reassurance fell on deaf ears.
A Stand News journalist who has frequently reported from the protest frontlines said that he had been diagnosed with chloracne, a skin condition that has been linked directly to exposure to dioxin-like substances.
While there’s no documented evidence of long-term health effects, it’s also largely untested territory.
“I don’t think there have been circumstances where there has been this level of repeated exposure for people to tear gas. What’s going on in Hong Kong is pretty unprecedented,” said Alistair Hay, a British toxicologist from the University of Leeds.
Police have fired it in cramped residential areas and near hospitals, malls and schools, affecting not only protesters but also children, the elderly and the sick. This has prompted many calls for the government to come clean on the chemical reagents being used in the tear gas weapon.
A further complication to the tear gas issue, is that the HK government issued guidelines to advise people about cleaning up residues left behind after Police have used tear gas in confined spaces such as buildings and MTR stations. Medical sector lawmaker, Pierre Chan, said that Queen Elizabeth Hospital medics – who had themselves been affected by tear gas during recent protests – had doubts over the Health Department’s instructions on how to clean up after tear gas owing to a lack of transparency about its chemical composition.
The HK Mothers group collected 1,188 complaints about tear gas in December 2019, including details of skin allergies and coughing, with the youngest victim being just two months old. They have urged the government to reveal the chemical composition of the teargas used by police. A separate group of parents and children had already staged a protest about the health hazards linked to tear gas the previous month.
The HK government, its Police and its Chief Executive all seem intent on ignoring and denying the concerns and legitimate requests of local people.
United Nations special rapporteurs have clearly set out in a formal letter a series of major concerns regarding the HK police force's widespread use of tear gas against anti-government protesters, and the SAR government must respond to the questions raised by the international community (see our blog which documents the letter written by the UN rapporteurs).
Baskut Tuncak, an expert on hazardous substances, and Clement Nyaletsossi Voule who is a UN special rapporteur on freedom of assembly issues, have published the letter they sent to the Chinese delegation at the UN in January 2020 regarding their concerns about the use of tear gas in HK.
In the letter, they say "we have reasons to believe that tear gas, pepper spray and other chemical agents have been used indiscriminately, unnecessarily and disproportionately, in violation of international and Hong Kong principles on the use of force".
"We also have reasons to be believe that many canisters of tear gas have been used in an uncontrolled and allegedly malicious manner."
They demanded, under the mandate given to them by the Human Rights Council, to be provided with a list of information regarding the HK police's use of various weapons during the protests, including the chemical composition of the tear gas, pepper spray and other chemical agents fired.
We note that Amnesty International has launched an interactive website detailing instances of tear gas misuse globally, just as HK police were ordered to reveal the ingredients of the crowd control weapon they so much like to use.
The human rights NGO has documented occasions when law enforcement fired the chemical agent inside confined spaces, at individuals directly, during peaceful protests, as well as in excessive quantities.
The NGO team documented police forces using tear gas in ways that it was never intended to be used, often in large quantities against largely peaceful protesters or by firing projectiles directly at people, causing injuries and deaths.
The truth about tear gas according to Feigenbaum, a senior lecturer at Britain’s Bournemouth University, is that despite hundreds of reported deaths from its effects over the decades – as well as injuries ranging from burns and brain damage to respiratory ailments and miscarriages – there is no legal obligation in any country to record the number of deaths or injuries attributed to tear gas.
Video footage of tear gas incidents.
Case 1 Tear gas issue
11 November 2019, SCMP: The demonstration at the centre of this case was just a small part of the months-long anti-government protest action, which was sparked in June 2019 by immense opposition to the now-withdrawn extradition bill. The day had begun with protesters calling for a city-wide strike, leading to protester blockades at many intersections and transport mayhem.
At around 7.15am a Police officer fired his police-issued weapon several times during an altercation with protesters, injuring one of them. Protesters had been blocking roads at an intersection outside Tai On Building in Sai Wan Ho on the north-east of Hong Kong Island. A police officer tried to give chase to multiple masked men before he pulled out a service pistol and pointed it at them. He then grabbed a protester in white clothes and shot another protester in black clothing at close range.
Police confirmed that one officer "discharged his service revolver" and that a man was shot.
Footage posted on Facebook showed the officer drawing his gun before grappling with a man at a roadblock. When another man approached wearing a face mask, the officer fired at him, hitting him in the torso. The officer fired twice more, but there were no other injuries.
After the shooting, footage showed the 21-year old protester lying with his eyes wide open and with blood around him.
An anonymous source told Ming Pao newspaper that the 21-year-old unresponsive protester was injured in his kidney and liver, with his renal vein crushed. His heart stopped once and he required cardiopulmonary resuscitation. At 11am, the Hospital Authority released a statement saying that a man who had sustained a gunshot wound was in critical condition.
Pro-democracy legislator Ray Chan criticised a riot police officer who was filmed attempting to pick up the injured protester as he bled out. In a tweet, Chan wrote: “Is this the proper way to handle a casualty who is likely to suffer from internal organ lacerations and crushed veins?”
The critically wounded protester in this incident was the third person shot by police since the protests began 24 weeks ago (see links below more information on other police use of firearms).
11 June 2020 SCMP, "The Eastern Court on Thursday approved Democratic Party legislator Ted Hui Chi-fung’s legal bid against Station Sergeant Kwan Ka-wing, a traffic officer, who opened fire during a protest in Sai Wan Ho last November, paving the way for the first criminal prosecution of an officer over the anti-government unrest that erupted a year ago.
"Senior officers revealed they were highly concerned about the development in an internal memo sent on Thursday night.
“The management has been in close contact with the Department of Justice, and will provide all-round support to the affected colleague to ensure his interests are best safeguarded,” the memo said.
"After receiving the go-ahead, opposition lawmaker Hui said he hoped the court’s decision would send a “clear message” to police that abuse of power would have consequences.
“It carries a significant meaning for us ... In the whole of the protest movement against the extradition bill, this is the first time a police officer is being prosecuted because of police brutality and the level of force they use,” he said.
"The unidentified officer would be served summonses and required to attend court on a date to be determined. Hui started the legal action in February .
"Hui argued that the officer – who was granted anonymity in another case in which he served as a prosecution witness – should face five serious charges including attempted murder and discharging ammunition in a manner likely to injure or endanger the safety of others.
"On Thursday, Eastern magistrate Lam Tsz-kan dismissed two of the charges. But he allowed Hui to press ahead with two other firearm-related counts, as well as a further charge of shooting with intent, an offence punishable by life imprisonment.
"The two firearm-related charges are discharging ammunition with reckless disregard for others’ safety and dealing with arms in a way likely to injure or endanger others’ safety, both carrying a maximum jail sentence of seven years.
"The November 11 case involves two alleged victims: the protester who survived the shooting and another standing nearby.
This private prosecution involves a single officer and the potential mis-use of a weapon. The defence of SELF DEFENSE is also on trial. It’s about operational tactics, and police training.
Amidst various claims that the protester was reaching for the officer’s gun, or that the protesters were violent, blocking traffic etc, it is frequently pointed out that the injured protester was unarmed. There are a number of other actions the officer could have taken but chose not to.
Among the many questions that must be asked are:
1. Why was the officer afraid for his life?
2. Why shoot the protester in the torso rather than in the arm or leg?
3. Could a warning shot have been fired instead?
4. Was it wise to deploy just two officers to a public demonstration of this nature?
5. Why move the injured protester rather than attend to his immediate medical needs?
Speaking to The Standard, Hui said he is taking the action for justice and to keep the police force in check. He stressed that he is not targeting the force as a whole, but doesn't want to see any officers who have committed crimes going unpunished.
"We are in a system where we find police officers free of punishment when they actually committed a crime," the lawmaker said.
"The government is not prosecuting, so we want him to be [held] accountable."
Hui added that although evidence has been collected, it is up to a court to decide whether Officer Kwan is guilty.
Video footage of the incident.
Case 2 Shooting of protester
CASE 3 Achieving Justice for victims
11 June 2020 SCMP, For a second time legislator Ted Hui has been given the green light to lodge a private prosecution over incidents relating to the anti-government protests in HK over the past year.
Last week, Hui was given permission to privately lay a charge of dangerous driving against 59-year-old taxi driver Henry Cheng Kwok-chuen. He accused the driver of ramming a cab into a crowd of protesters in Sham Shui Po in October. Hui said on Thursday that Cheng was due to appear at Eastern Court on August 17 to respond to the allegation.
At around 5pm on Sunday 6 October 2019, a taxi was seen driving onto the pedestrian walkway outside the Cheung Sha Wan government offices, according to videos circulating online (see below). Hundreds of protesters had advanced on the Cheung Sha Wan government offices shortly after 4pm, chanting slogans such as “disband the police force now.”
Video uploaded to social media shows one of Hong Kong's red taxi cabs driving slowly in a sea of black-clad protesters, turning left and accelerating into the crowd. After the taxi rammed into the protesters and mowed them down, the driver was pulled from the vehicle and duly beaten. Several other images and video in local media showed what appeared to be the aftermath: a man, bloodied and battered, being hit and kicked while on the ground next to the taxi. The taxi driver and injured protesters were eventually ferried to hospital with several of the patients in serious condition.
The protesters accused the taxi driver of deliberately ploughing through the crowd, but the taxi driver has claimed his vehicle was out of control because a protester was attacking him in the front seat. One video not widely circulated shows some protesters were vandalising the taxi before the incident.
[Taxi-driver] Cheng was not charged by the Department of Justice, though two others who allegedly took part in the beating were separately charged with rioting, wounding with intent and wearing facial coverings at an unlawful assembly.
Hui said the [Police] department’s decision to not prosecute Cheng was itself a form of police brutality and a grave injustice to those injured by the collision, one of whom, according to the lawmaker, suffered fractures in both legs.
"When police witness a crime so obvious that an ordinary person can tell (but decide not to prosecute), we have to do our job to file our case," Hui said at a press conference.
"It's the inaction of the police that leads to injustice," he said.
Hui plans to call three witnesses, including Senior Inspector Billy Ng Chun-yiu, a police officer who was involved in the investigation of the incident.
Lawyer Victor Leung Sui-yin, a member of Hui's legal team, said none of the injured was willing to be a witness as they fear they will be hit with riot charges.
Cheng, who has since resumed work as a taxi driver, has dismissed Hui’s legal bid as “frivolous”, and said he could offer no compensation to those injured because he had been declared bankrupt by the court. He added that he had never received monetary support from anyone after the incident.
Strangely, however, after the incident one news report identified "Safeguard HK", a pro-China group whose members are involved in HK politics and have ties to the Communist Party, as being responsible for advising Cheng of a US$66,000 (HK$520,000) reward for driving his taxi into the protesters. The report named “Kennedy Wong, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, and Stanley Ng, a HK delegate to the National People’s Congress,” as the two members of the group who met Cheng in the hospital to tell him he would receive money, presumably for his medical fees following the attack.
Note: For fear of arrest, many injured protesters routinely choose NOT to go to public hospitals.
Video footage of the incident is widely available.
Case 3 Taxi ramming protesters
A taxi drove into protestors in Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong (YouTube)
Taxi driver beaten and soaked in blood, (HK Protest)
It would be nice if the words of Ted Hui himself in reference to the police were enough on this matter:
"Even though the police complaints mechanism is not working at all, there are people, civilians, and us, who can always resort to the courts as a last resort, and there will be consequences. There’ll be results and punishment towards them, so this is a warning."
However, the issues go much deeper, into matters of policing, the operations of our judiciary and the responsiveness of our government.
It is a key failure of the HK Government that they refuse to instigate a proper and through independent inquiry! It's not about a lack of money or time, or any difficulty finding experts to officiate. The government neither wish to accept any blame for their own role in fomenting public unrest, nor allocate any blame to the HK Police force, its senior staff and frontline officers.
The HK government has continued with its refusal to carry out a thorough investigation of HKPF use of force, even in the face of numerous appeals and requests to do so. It has shown its reluctance to assign any blame, or make anyone in authority in anyway accountable. Meanwhile thousands of those who acted peacefully in defence of human rights have been arbitrarily and indiscriminately arrested, while a much smaller number have actually been charged by police.
The CE and her government is to blame for allowing matters in HK to fester, and for instead trying to silence dissent and criticism!
On the other hand, HK police have often been outnumbered, and intimidated by protesters. The force has sometimes been out-manoevred by nimble protesters who moved like water, or who used guerilla tactics to inflict damage, or to push back against determined police lines. There have been several instances in which, rogue police, undercover police, or independent provocateurs have deliberately incited violence to ensnare anti-government and pro-democracy protesters.
Police have been under immense and unreasonable pressure since no political solution to the crisis has been forthcoming from the HK government.
It's also of great concern that forces have tried to block these private prosecutions: the crowd funding initiated by Hui came to a temporary standstill for a time and it seemed funds could be frozen like what had happened to the ‘Spark Alliance‘ whose bank account was frozen by police in December last year.
The George Floyd BLM situation has heightened global interest in issues of policing, police tactics in dealing with violent confrontations and mass protests, and the use of tactical weapons. Besides the individual officers who are entangled in incidents like the death of George Floyd or Eric Garner, this is currently like both the police force and the government who are its backers being on trial.
It would be remiss of us if we did not point out the tragic case in HK of the death in police custody of a South Asian man - similar in all ways to the death in custody of George Floyd in USA in which 4 police officers have now been charged with murder. In HK no police officer is being brought to task for the death in custody of this South Asian man who remains nameless in media reporting, and no inquiry has questioned police behaviour at the time. Currently in HK there is no legislation that prohibits the Police from exercising racial discrimination.
While the U.S. tackles police brutality, Hong Kong is in denial!
Amidst escalating violence on both sides, there has been increased distrust and loss of faith in how the police and DOJ do their work in HK.
The DOJ is currently only prosecuting roughly 10% of the HK people being arrested by Police, which means that the other 90% are illegal, arbitrary arrests. Under the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) the HK Police are actively and repeatedly violating a range of internationally accepted principles: Article 9, Article 17, Article 20, Article 21, Article 24, Article 26. We especially note the appalling treatment of children and young people by the HK police and the government failure to fully uphold the UN convention on the rights of the child (CRC).
In fact, frequently comments and actions of the Police, the CE, ExCo, HKMAO, and Central Government Officials have inflamed the tensions in the city, rather than bring about calm (for example, see our blog Not without reason (Part 2 of 2))
Even CE Carrie Lam, who once indicated she wanted to have more dialogue with the people of HK, has repeatedly said that protesters are "Enemies of the people".
In April 2020, a HK judge said while sentencing a violent criminal who had attacked two pro-democracy activists and a journalist at a Lennon Wall, that the defendant was himself "a victim". The comments made brought both the court and judiciary into question. We must point out that all of HK society is a victim too! We are victims of the structural violence inflicted on us by the government that dehumanises and is invariably out of touch. We are not being served by its lawmakers who fail to act on the will of the people. Our own leader who is nothing more than a puppet for the CCP propping up a broken system, fails to engage with the majority of HK and considers us an enemy!
Even when there is diverse and divergent opinion on matters, a good leader would acknowledge and respect other's views, manage dialogue, and find areas of common ground to enable the charting of a way forward.
No less than THREE separate letters from UN special rapporteurs have been critical of China and HK from the perspective of international law (see here and here and here). The fact is that some people are simply shameless and others for whatever reason are intransigent!
Besides the concerns expressed by Teresa Cheng about unjustified private prosecutions, another critic of Ted Hui's initiative is Grenville Cross, a senior counsel, law professor, and criminal justice analyst, who was previously the director of public prosecutions (DPP) in HK. Cross makes the bold statement that "If prosecutions are not brought in good faith, those responsible must face the consequences. The criminal justice system in Hong Kong must be safeguarded at all costs." It is not clear what 'consequences' Mr Cross has in mind, however, there are some other highly valued things in HK that must also be safeguarded such as human rights, and democracy, and we would like to point out that these are NOT mutually exclusive.
It's bound to sound like a platitude, but we have hopes for a city blessed by good governance, a competent and loyal civil service, an independent judiciary, respect for its constitution and international law, etc... with sensible, fair and equitable systems etc... maintaining a high degree of autonomy, law, order, justice, stability, prosperity, etc...
If it takes more private prosecutions to push those in authority towards acceptance of those things we the people value, then so be it.
Hong Kong protester shot with live round (Tsuen Wan - News Direct, YouTube)