Talk more if you want to take action: watchdog
Rally organisers should discuss their plans with police well in advance, complaints council says
Protest organisers and the police should start talking to each other well ahead of a rally and keep detailed records of their meetings to avoid any dispute afterwards about what they have agreed on, the police watchdog says.
The advice came after organisers of the annual July 1 march, which started from Victoria Park, lodged an official complaint last week about arrangements at the rally this year.
The Civil Human Rights Front told the Independent Police Complaints Council that the force had gone back on its word to open a barricade near the Sogo department store in Causeway Bay so that more protesters could join in if necessary.
The police insisted no such agreement had been reached.
The council, which took part for the first time as observers at meetings in the run-up to the protest and also had representatives on the ground, said the situation this year had improved.
"The lesson we have learned is that if the organisers and police are prepared to discuss the issues openly and as early as possible, it is quite possible to reach agreement on critical issues so that, on the day itself, the event can proceed far more smoothly," council chairman Jat Sew-tong said yesterday. Jat said the watchdog should not play the role of a judge in any such dispute, but that the council was willing to serve as a communication bridge between both parties so that fewer complaints would arise.
On the Occupy Central civil disobedience movement for democracy, Jat said the council had been following the developments, but felt it was too early to tell what role it would play.
He also responded to complaints against council secretary general Ricky Chu Man-kin, who had described an August 4 pro-police rally in Mong Kok as a "political event". The event, believed to have drawn hundreds of off-duty and retired police officers, sparked debate over the impartiality of the police force and the political rights of officers.
The council was close to finishing its internal probe and would make its findings public soon, Jat said. He added he had seen no positive or negative changes in society since he said in August that the relationship between the public and the police had reached a "dangerous level".
The council was looking into two other complaints referred by the Complaints Against Police Office, one involving an alleged beating by officers, the council's deputy secretary general Daniel Mui said, without elaborating.