Legal body says police undermined rule of law

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 June, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 June, 2010, 12:00am

The Hong Kong Bar Association has deplored the way police handled the June 4 arts exhibits. In a strongly worded statement, the legal professional body said the police action had undermined the rule of law.

Members of the Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, when negotiating with police to release the exhibits seized from a memorial function at Times Square, were asked to sign a declaration admitting they had breached the law and to promise not to display them again without a licence. Police read out the declaration when members refused to sign.

'The Bar Association deplores any attempt by the police to incriminate the owners of the exhibits during the negotiation for their return,' the statement says. It also questioned if the government was right to take action under the Places of Public Entertainment Ordinance.

Meanwhile, the British consulate said yesterday that the seizure of the June 4 art pieces and the arrest of activists under an entertainment law could be seen as a threat to Hong Kong's rights and freedoms.

A consulate spokesman said Hong Kong's stability and prosperity 'depend on the maintenance of its rights and freedoms', which is enshrined in the Sino-British Joint Declaration. The spokesman said the consulate was monitoring the latest controversy and would include it in the British government's next six-monthly report on Hong Kong.

Secretary for Security Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong said police had acted according to the law. He denied the police had been inconsistent in enforcement, saying the release of the exhibits had been lawful, reasonable and sensible.

'Police have adopted measures to facilitate the transfer of the exhibits to Victoria Park. Hong Kong has freedom of expression,' he said.