Judges shouldn’t be targeted for their ruling against police officers convicted of assault

Bianca Chan

Despite the uproar caused by the ruling against the seven police officers, Hong Kong’s independent judiciary remains a beacon for the mainland

Bianca Chan |

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Activist Ken Tsang Kin-chiu’s supporters hold a banner outside the District Court in Wan Chai. Amid a chorus of outrage and triumph, Hong Kong can be proud of its independent judiciary.

We live in strange times. Supposedly well-trained law enforcement officers beat up a zip-tied suspect at an electricity substation in Admiralty. Although the assault was filmed and widely circulated, the seven officers repeatedly denied the accusations in court. They were sentenced to two years in prison.

A supposedly well-paid government official has been found guilty of misconduct in public office. Former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen was sentenced to 20 months in prison in a case related to a luxury flat on the mainland.

Amid the chorus of outrage and triumph, fears of Hong Kong descending into a dystopian society are virtually non-existent. The fact that we can confidently say this can be attributed to one thing – an independent judiciary. In Hong Kong, protesters who take to the streets don’t have to worry about police violence, for they know that the courts would punish those who abuse their powers. Businesses can flourish here, because there is very little corruption. Those who accept bribes or other advantages will be dealt with by the courts.

This is why it saddens me that British judge David Dufton, who handed down the sentence on the seven police officers who were convicted of assaulting Occupy Central protester Ken Tsang Kin-chiu, has been heavily criticised.

In addition to the wave of online insults, which included calling Dufton a “dog”, a WeChat account run by the mainland newspaper People’s Daily questioned

whether the judge was affected by his

political stance.

Hong Kong lawmaker Wong Kwok-kin, of the Federation of Trade Unions, made things worse by branding Dufton a “white skin with yellow heart”. Yellow is the symbolic colour of the Occupy Central pro-democracy movement.

Such derogatory comments denigrate our judges and the sanctity of our legal system.

I believe that our judges have had sufficient training to realise the importance of setting aside their personal preferences when dealing with a court case. I believe they use careful reasoning and strictly adhere to the letter of the law in their rulings. The situation is somewhat similar to police officers who are trained to withstand pressure and provocations when carrying out their duties.

I believe that Hong Kong’s rule of law remains a beacon for the mainland, where courts are susceptible to the whims and demands of the communist leaders.

I agree that Hong Kong is a divided society. Depending on one’s political beliefs, one may be saddened or encouraged by Dufton’s ruling. But either way, we should not easily dismiss the impartiality of our judiciary. After all, it forms the backbone of Hong Kong’s future development and prosperity.