Police water torture 'common'

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 July, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 July, 1998, 12:00am

WATER torture of police suspects in Hong Kong is 'common', says a report to be presented to the United Nations later this year.

A non-government 'alternative' report to the Government's official record of human rights in the SAR is to be presented to the Human Rights Committee and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The report, currently being drafted, details an incident in which a police informer was stripped, hosed, and forced to stand in front of an air-conditioner earlier this year. Although the incident was publicised, it has not been investigated by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

'Water torture, in which water is forced into the nose and mouth of suspects is also common,' said Law Yuk-kai from Human Rights Monitor, which has contributed to the report.

Most people who complained they were assaulted by police said they endured water torture, said Society of Community Organisation's community organiser Diana Pang Wai-sum.

'Our observation is it's pretty much part of every single case in which people have been beaten.' Mr Law said his organisation was also calling for a ban on guns in interview rooms, as firearms could be used to extract confessions from suspects.

He said his group would continue to campaign for an independent police complaints body.

Human Rights Monitor will also release a report - Police and Basic Rights - by the end of the month, which will be presented to the Government. Mr Law said the force had become 'politicised' through changes to public assembly ordinances.

'They are more concerned now with policing our minds,' he said.

In the first three months of this year, there were 734 complaints against police, compared with 2,939 for the whole of last year. Of the 734, more than 30 per cent (224) were assault cases, with a further 26.3 per cent 'impolite conduct/abusive language/ overbearing'.

Another 183, or 26.3 per cent, relate to neglect of duty and improper action. Fabrication of evidence is alleged in 31 complaints, according to the Independent Police Complaints Council.