Civil Rights Observer
Established in 2014 after the Umbrella Movement, the Civil Rights Observer is a civil society organisation focusing on police abuse of powers and civil and political rights in Hong Kong. We have persistently advocated for rectifying the above problems in the past years, and have even advocated before the United Nations Committee Against Torture to plead for international attention to the worsening of human rights situation in Hong Kong.
With the erosions of rights and freedom coupled with a rising authoritarianism in the government, it is understandable that Hong Kong is now filled with senses of hopelessness and agitation. To offer a solution to the precarious condition of Hong Kong, we believe human rights discourse and education that are concrete, progressive and timely are most important for upholding human rights standards in Hong Kong. The four directions of Civil Rights Observer are thus: human rights education, police power monitoring, policy advocacy, and emergency human rights supports.
Civil Rights Observer is a project of Civic Incubator Limited.
Human Rights Education
Human rights education is most crucial for the development of civil society and for nurturing civic consciousness. Civil Rights Observer organises human rights workshops, training courses and seminars regularly to strengthen public knowledge on international human rights covenants and their rights under Hong Kong laws.
Concerned with the police’s handling of public assemblies and whether the freedom of assembly can be properly exercised, Civil Rights Observer’s observers monitor public assemblies and demonstrations, especially whether the police’s handling complies with human rights standards and laws. Civil Rights Observer will publish reports after observation and make recommendations for improvement.
Research and Advocacy
We adopt research-based advocacy to push for policy changes and legislation favourable to human rights. By policy and legal research, Civil Rights Observer will unearth government policies that contravene human rights principles, and recommend alternatives.
Emergency Human Rights Support
We provide emergency human rights support as necessitated by circumstances of public assemblies or individual cases to ensure the rights of citizens are safeguarded.
Icarus Wong Ho-yin
Icarus is a vocal advocate on freedom of assembly and issues of police powers. He discovered the complete lack of accountability and regard for human rights of detainees through his personal experience of being stripped and searched while under arrest for protesting against the redevelopment of Lee Tung Street in 2007. Together with other civil society and human rights groups, Icarus lobbied for his cause at both the Legislative Council and the United Nations. He successfully urged the Hong Kong Police to conduct a thorough review over the procedures of conducting strip search.
He was the vice-convener of the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), as well as convener of the Police Powers Monitoring Group under the CHRF. Icarus is also concerned with how urban redevelopment affects human rights. Previously, he helped minority owners deal with lawsuits about compulsory sales and harassment from purchasers.
Icarus obtained a Master of Laws in Human Rights (LL.M) from the University of Hong Kong in 2017.
Andrew Shum Wai-nam
Andrew has been an active social movement organiser and human rights worker in Hong Kong for many years. He has organised many large scale rallies, assemblies and civic actions, including the annual July 1st rally, the anti-national education assembly in 2012, and several major assemblies outside the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government. He has led negotiations with the police over arrangement for large scale rallies and assemblies, and fought for the freedom to protest during the course. He followed up on cases concerning abuse of power by the police. Andrew was the vice-convener of the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), as well as the convener of the Civil Alliance Against National Education. He advocated in front of the United Nations Committee Against Torture in 2015 together with fellow Civil Rights Observer member, Icarus Wong Ho-yin.
Also a professional teacher, Andrew has given lectures and training courses for human rights instructors, and is particularly concerned with the development of human rights education in Hong Kong. Andrew obtained a Master of Laws in Human Rights (LL.M) from the University of Hong Kong in 2017.