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疑似新行動指引 警方應回應

2015/3/23 — 11:48

警方在佔領運動期間執行職務(資料圖片)

警方在佔領運動期間執行職務(資料圖片)

【《法政匯思》短評:關於香港警隊針對公眾集會的疑似新行動指引】
THE PROGRESSIVE LAWYERS GROUP'S SHORT COMMENTARY REGARDING THE ALLEGED NEW OPERATION DIRECTIONS FOR DEALING WITH PUBLIC GATHERINGS

我們注意到近來有媒體報導,指香港警隊就防止由最少三個人所組成的「可疑」聚集演變成為示威有新的行動指引。警務處處長至今沒有否認這些報導。

根據這些疑似新的行動指引,此類聚集可誘使警方採取行動,包括以「防預性」方式處理未經授權的示威及聚集、要求涉嫌參與者出示身份証明文件、驅散、跟蹤甚至拘捕涉嫌參與者。

廣告

我們關注香港警察為「防預性」監管而發出的新行動指引,會容易對公民集會和表達自由造成一種肆意或不相稱的限制。此外,警方要求出示身份証明文件、收集個人資料,以至由警員跟蹤參與者,均引發對警方蒐集參與合法抗議示威者資料以建立情報數據庫的疑慮。警方根據這些新行動指引行使警權是會即時對合法示威及基本權利的行使有禁制或壓制的效果。若警方非法地濫用警權,受害的市民必須付出大量的能耐及資源,花上數月,甚至數年的時間,通過法院才能要求警方為濫用警權問責。即使這樣,無論到時法院頒令的補救措施是甚麼,恐怕已是太少、太遲了。

根據香港法律,香港市民在參與示威前並不需要得到警方批准。但任何人有意舉行超過50人的公眾集會或超過30人的遊行,則須事先通知警方。任何督察級以上警務人員如合理地相信任何公眾聚集會相當可能導致或引致破壞社會安寧,他們有權阻止該公眾聚集的舉行、停止或解散該公眾聚集、更改公眾聚集地點或遊行所經路線(不論參與人數)。「破壞社會安寧」在法律上意思是指對人身或其財物造成傷害、或在預期受害者在場下威脅會造成此等傷害的行為。

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至於「非法集結」罪名,它的構成是需要三個或以上的人集結在一起,作出擾亂秩序的行為或作出帶有威嚇性、侮辱性或挑撥性的行為,而他們作這些行為的共同目的是破壞社會安寧或激使他人破壞社會安寧。又或者他們共同作出這些行為相當可能引致其他人合理地憂慮他們會以這些行為來破壞社會安寧或激使他人破壞社會安寧。法院曾強調一個人與其他兩人一起為達到這些共同目的而作出這些擾亂秩序的行為或作出帶有威嚇性、侮辱性或挑撥性的行為才屬違法。如果不作出此行為的行動則不屬違法。任何破壞治安的恐懼必須是客觀與合理。警方並不能單靠自己的主觀猜測而阻止任何人參與公眾集會。警方並不可以作任何侵犯集會和表達自由的行為。

香港法院多番指出此等基本權利必須予以寬鬆闡釋以全面保障個人權利。反之,限制基本憲法權利的法律必須狹義地闡釋。 若任何公權力(包括警權)的運用可能限制市民的基本權利,該權力必須要有周密及清晰的界限,以防止此等權力被任意或不合比例地使用。事實上,香港特區政府(包括香港警隊在內)是有正面責任採取合理步驟及適當措施令合法示威遊行以和平方式進行,即使示威遊行中所表達的意見令人無法苟同、不受大多數人歡迎、令人反感甚至冒犯他人。

警方若以擔心破壞社會安寧的事件可能會發生而藉詞去行使警權阻止和平示威進行,這會是非常例外及嚴厲的做法。若對和平示威者的基本集會及表達自由權利施以任何限制,警方必須有合理及在法律上可以成立的解釋。我們重申,集會自由及表逹自由乃基本法和香港人權法案保證的憲法權利。 儘管香港警隊被賦與權力去控制及驅散公眾對聚集並要求涉嫌參與者出示身份証明文件,但如果警方使用此等權力之目的是阻止、防止或壓制市民去行使其基本權利,警方便是濫權。

所以,我們要求警方回應此等有關「防預性」指引之報導及所引起的關注,並向公眾保證警方會尊重公眾和平集會自由及表達自由,及在執行公職時會專重及履行法律加於他們身上的正面責任採取合理步驟及適當措施令合法示威遊行以和平方式進行,協助公眾行使而不是阻礙公眾行使此等權利。

法政匯思 2015年3月23日

We note recent media reports about the Hong Kong Police Force’s new operation directions aimed at “preventing any ‘suspicious’ gathering of at least three people from turning into a protest”. The Police Commissioner has not denied these reports.

According to the alleged new operation directions, police may take “preventive” measures in relation to such gatherings, including the demanding of production of identification papers from the participants of such gatherings, dispersing them, following them or even arresting them.

We are concerned that these new operation directions issued by the Hong Kong Police that aim at “preventive” policing can easily lead to arbitrary or disproportionate restriction of the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of assembly and freedom of expression. Moreover, demanding for production of identification, taking of personal details, and following participants by police officers all raise the concern about the police gathering an intelligence database of protestors who take part in otherwise lawful protests. The exercise of police powers in the manner as set out in the new operation direction has immediate prohibiting or stifling effects on lawful protests and the exercise of fundamental rights. Any redress for unlawful exercise of police power could only be found if one had the stomach and resources to hold the police accountable through the courts, which could often take months, or even years. Even then, whatever remedy available would likely to be too little, too late.

Hong Kong residents are not required by law to obtain authorization from the police before engaging in any protests, except that advance notice must be given to the police if anyone intends to hold a public meeting of more than 50 people or a public procession of more than 30 people. However, any police officer above the rank of inspector may prevent the holding of, stop, disperse or vary the place or route of any public gathering (regardless of the number of participants) if he reasonably believes that the same is likely to cause or lead to a breach of the peace. A “breach of the peace” in law means causing harm to a person or his property, or threatening to cause such harm in the presence of the intended victim.

As for the offence of "unlawful assembly", it is committed when 3 or more persons act in a disorderly, intimidating, insulting or provocative manner with the common purpose to commit a breach of the peace or to provoke others to commit a breach of the peace. It can also be committed by these people acting together in such manner that may cause other people to reasonably fear that they will commit a breach of the peace or provoke others to commit a breach of the peace. The court has emphasized that only those people who act in this disorderly, intimidating, insulting or provocative manner with two other people will be liable for this offence. If one does not take part in acting in this manner then one cannot be guilty of taking part in an unlawful assembly. Any fear of the peace being broken must be objectively reasonable. The police cannot stop any one person from going to a public gathering simply because of their subjective suspicion. They must act in a way that does not infringe upon one's freedom of assembly and freedom of expression.

Hong Kong courts have repeatedly stated that these fundamental rights must be interpreted generously in order to give individuals its full measure. On the other hand, any restrictions on fundamental constitutional rights by law must be interpreted narrowly. Any exercise of power, including police power, that may restrict a fundamental right must be clearly and carefully limited in order to prevent this power from being arbitrarily or disproportionately exercised. In fact, the Hong Kong SAR Government, including the Hong Kong Police Force, has a positive duty to take reasonable steps and appropriate measures to enable lawful demonstrations to take place peacefully even if the views expressed are disagreeable, unpopular, distasteful or even offensive to others.

It would be a very exceptional and draconian exercise of police power to prevent peaceful protests from taking place on the pretext that the police feared that a breach of the peace may result. Any restriction of peaceful protestors’ fundamental freedom of assembly and freedom of expression must be sufficiently justified and legally justifiable. We reiterate that freedom of assembly and freedom of expression are fundamental constitutional rights guaranteed by the Basic Law and the Hong Kong Bill of Rights. Although police officers are empowered to control or disperse public gatherings or demand production of identification, it would be an abuse of such powers if the police exercises this power in order to discourage, prevent, or suppress the exercise of these fundamental rights.

Therefore, we request that the Hong Kong Police Force respond to the reports on these new operation directions and to the public concern caused by them. We also request that Hong Kong Police Force reassures the public that they will respect the fundamental freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression and that they will honour and perform their legal duty to facilitate, not obstruct, the exercise of those rights.

Progressive Lawyers Group 23 March 2015

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