A Hong Kong group called Netizens Organizing Police Abuse Investigation Data (NOPAID) this week published an extensive report on the excessive use of force by police against protesters.
The report concluded that thorough reforms of the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF) are needed, far beyond the sort of independent investigation long demanded by the protest movement.
NOPAID’s report began with a review of the statutory powers of the HKPF under Hong Kong’s “Basic Law” – the body of law that defines Hong Kong’s limited autonomy from China – and noted the agency which processes complaints against the police is not independent from the HKPF. Other agencies, such as the Hong Kong Office of the Ombudsman and the Independent Police Complaint Council, lack the powers needed to conduct thorough investigations.
“The current trust crisis makes it difficult for citizens to believe that the police officers breaching the law would receive appropriate punishment,” NOPAID argued.
The bulk of the report consists of photos and videos documenting reported police abuses, with each incident classified by whether it violated the statutory guidelines on the use of police force, obstructed journalists, hindered medical assistance to the injured, or was conducted without the police displaying a proper warrant.
NOPAID also noted when the police treated Hong Kong citizens rudely, which they once had a good reputation for avoiding thanks to a strict code of conduct. Hong Kong police regulations also require officers to actively “facilitate the work of the news media as much as possible and accord media representatives consideration and courtesy.”
The archive of evidence in the report runs back to June 10 and currently fills about 250 pages of Google Documents. NOPAID argued the conduct of the police during the current crisis has “severely shaken the foundation of the rule of law, and eroded the public confidence in the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle and the Basic Law.”
“To restore effective governance and to prevent recurrence of such incidents, a holistic political reform and universal suffrage for the CE and Legislative Council elections are still topics that cannot be avoided,” the group concluded, a more formal way of saying that all of the protest movement’s “Five Demands” should be met.
Some protesters have recently begun speaking of a “Sixth Demand,” the complete disbanding of the HKPF as currently constituted. NOPAID told Breitbart News that while they believe drastic reforms are needed, “disbanding the police force may not be the best immediate solution,” but discussions should be held to determine how reforms can best be implemented.
“This is outside the scope of the report, and more research is definitely needed,” they said.
NOPAID told Breitbart News its members have been individually active, but the Police Force Investigation Report is the first time they have worked together as a group.
“We met on the internet, through LiHKG and Facebook. We are not an organization with a clear structure, but we all care about the excessive power of the police force,” they said. LiHKG is an online forum similar to Reddit that is popular with protesters.
NOPAID noted that as a volunteer group of citizens, it lacks the resources of a major journalistic organization and the statutory authority to conduct the kind of thorough investigation of the police force that Hong Kong desperately needs.
“This report serves as a starting point for further investigation, and we hope that investigative journalists will pursue further investigation and reporting,” NOPAID told Breitbart News.