Amnesty: police using ‘reckless, unlawful’ tactics

Amnesty International said on Friday it had uncovered a a disturbing pattern of reckless and unlawful tactics deployed by police in anti-extradition protests over the past three months.

The human rights group said it based its findings on interviews with 38 people, including 21 who have been arrested in recent protests, as well as lawyers, medical professionals and first-responders, as well as video and photos of protests. It says an urgent independent investigation is needed.

Its East Asia director, Nicholas Bequelin, says some of the cases it uncovered would not surprise those who’ve watched the protests closely. But he said abuses that happened “out of sight” were very disturbing. He also said a pervasive “climate of fear” left many people reluctant to come forward:

“It was really striking to see that people were intimidated and really fearful of coming forward with their stories or with evidence that they have been abused,” Bequelin said.

“I think that it speaks to the climate of fear that is somewhat pervasive in Hong Kong at the moment and the lack of trust in the police, in the judicial institutions or in the government.”

The group said its found evidence reckless and indiscriminate tactics, including while arresting people at protests, as well as what it said was exclusive evidence of ill-treatment in detention.

“The evidence leaves little room for doubt – in an apparent thirst for retaliation, Hong Kong’s security forces have engaged in a disturbing pattern of reckless and unlawful tactics against people during the protests,” Bequelin said.

“This has included arbitrary arrests and retaliatory violence against arrested persons in custody, some of which has amounted to torture.”

Hong Kong police have yet to respond to the report.

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