Activists say police demands of protesters go against Bill of Rights
Having to file written notice of protest seven days in advance is not constitutional, they say
Eight activists who were found guilty of unlawful assembly after participating in last year's June 4 vigil challenged the charge as unconstitutional in the Court of First Instance yesterday.
The move came during the appeal by Bobo Yip Po-lam, 32, her fiancee, Icarus Wong Ho-yin, 28, and six others against their conviction in Eastern Court in October last year.
Barrister Erik Shum Sze-man, representing four of the applicants, said the Bill of Rights allowed freedom of assembly but the law required citizens to lodge a written notice with the police seven days before a protest.
He said this placed a restriction on the public's right of demonstration.
"If the court rules the ordinance itself is unconstitutional, there will be no need for the public to notify the police," he said.
Shum said that if the court found it necessary for the public to inform the police so that they could make preparations and keep the peace, a verbal notification should be enough.
Shum also argued that the trial magistrate had been wrong in deciding for the prosecution that the ordinance was constitutional.
"It was the burden of the government to prove [whether the ordinance is constitutional]," Shum said.
Prosecutor Martin Hui rejected Shum's contention, saying the magistrate followed a legal precedent to make his ruling.
He said the prosecution did not explain the ordinance in the lower court as the applicants did not ask for an explanation.
The hearing continues before Mrs Justice Judianna Barnes Wai-ling today.
Yip and Wong had received four-week jail terms, suspended for a year. Eddie Ch Ho-dick, Chu Kong-wai, Lee Sai-hung, Kitty Hung Hui-han, Alan Ming Wai-tim and Chan Ping-fung, aged 23 to 53, received fines of between HK$800 and HK$3,000.
They were among more than 100 protesters who marched to North Point police station on June 4 last year, after the annual candlelight vigil at Victoria Park.