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Joint Statement on Police Acquisition of Water Cannons- Call for Transparent Water Cannon Guidelines in line with Human Rights Standards

(Chinese version: https://www.hkcro.org/petition-wc-chi/)

It has been reported that the water cannons procured by the Police Force earlier are being delivered to Hong Kong. The report says that the water cannons are at the final stages of being assembled and tested, and are expected to be ready for deployment by the end of 2018.

The Hong Kong Police Force have been refusing to increase transparency in the process of purchasing the water cannons. They have refused to explain the lethality of water cannons, as well as the relevant principles and guidelines for their use. We strongly disapprove of this. We are of the opinions that the Police Force have failed to comply with their duty of accountability, transparency, and effective communication with the general public in accordance with the missions and values ​​of the Force.

We are concerned that if the forthcoming water cannons are abused, they can be used for wide-range and indiscriminate attacks against citizens participating in processions and assembly, as well as other people present (such as human rights observers, reporters and passers-by). Therefore, the Police Force should make public the guiding principles, guidelines and procedures for the use of water cannons so that the public can understand under what circumstances and how the water cannons may be used, so that they can assess the risks of participating in a particular procession or assembly, and, further, so that the same general public can monitor the use of water cannons by the Police Force.  This is necessary, so as to prevent the water cannons from becoming tools of injuring citizens, or of suppression of freedoms such as of assembly and of the press.

We emphasize that using water cannons to target or disperse protesters improperly, or harming innocent people in the course of using the water cannons, may amount to illegal use of force, and an unlawful violation of the right to assembly. Police officers using excessive force or ordering subordinates to use excessive force may be personally liable to criminal charges. The Police Force must provide adequate training to commanders and officers operating water cannons, and to set up strict monitoring and record-keeping measures to ensure water cannons are not misused.

We ask the Security Bureau and the Police Force to refer to the UN’s Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials and Joint report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association and the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions on the proper management of assemblies, OSCE’s Guidelines on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Human Rights Handbook on Policing Assemblies on the standards on the use of force and handling of processions and assemblies by law enforcement agents.

In addition, we ask the Security Bureau and the Police Force to incorporate the following principles in formulating the guiding principles and guidelines on the use of water cannons:

  1. The guiding principles and the guidelines for the use of water cannons must be accessible to the public.
  2. Forbidding indiscriminate attacks with the water cannons; harming the innocents must be prevented. The police must comply with the proportionality and necessity principles when using the water cannons and restricting the water pressure of the water cannons based on the principle of minimum force. The guidelines must specify the maximum pressure for different ranges.
  3. Under no circumstance should the police disperse a peaceful assembly with water cannons, regardless of whether the police regard that assembly as lawful or not.
  4. Under no circumstance and no matter what the distance is, the police officers must not aim or target a protester’s head with a water cannon; they must also not target protesters standing on railings or persons who are not on level ground. When debris is present at the scene, the police must consider the danger posed to protesters when using a water cannon.
  5. Under no circumstance could a water cannon be used against physically vulnerable persons, such as the elderly, children and pregnant women. The police officers will be required to manage such persons by other means.
  6. The Police Force must provide sufficient and clear escape routes for protesters when dispersing protesters with water cannons.
  7. A water cannon must not be used when the cold weather warning is in force or when the temperature is at or below 12 degrees Celsius.
  8. The Police Force must arrange for sufficient medical personnel and rescue services at the site where the water cannons are used; the arrangements must uphold the neutrality principle of an ICRC personnel, and for the purposes of providing humanitarian aid, including not assisting in the police’s actions with the firemen and medical personnel and their equipment.
  9. The police officers must give clear and sufficient warning by verbal instructions, texts and signs to protesters before using a water cannon. The Police Force should have adequate disability awareness and cultural sensitivity. Their warning must attend to the special needs of persons with disabilities (such as impaired hearing, cognitive difficulties) and language barriers.
  10. The Police Force must provide sufficient training for officers who command and operate water cannons and ensure that they have sufficient and in-depth knowledge of the principles of human rights, freedom of assembly and the standards on the use of force; the police must document the decision to use and the deployment of water cannons in details, the number and nature of injuries caused by the water cannons and relevant details, and all other relevant information; the Police Force should make a report to the public afterward.

Organisations

Civil Rights Observer, Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor, Civil Human Rights Front, The Progressive Lawyers Group, Nurse Politik, Reclaiming Social Work Movement, Democratic Action Accountants, Civic Party, Democratic Party, The Professionals Guild, Progressive Teachers’ Alliance, HKEd4All, Artists Action, Defense of HK Freedoms, Act Voice, 良心之友, 真普選救港大聯盟, 曉麗關注plus, Citizen Charter 617, CM Doctors Cure, 基督徒社關團契, League of Social Democrats, Demosisto, Narrow church, Insurance Arise, Doctors for Democracy, TomTong, Be a Smart Voter, Venus Kwan, HKBU Hill God, Sai Wan Sports Club, Vancouver Friends of Hong Kong, Democracy Groundwork, HKVSA,

Individuals

Claudia Yip, Peter Fung, Lucia Kwok Yat Ching, Chan siu ming, Choi Chun Hing, Joshua Wong, Yeung Kin Bun, David, Wedmond, Luk Wai Chu, Chan Oi Mei, Pau Kai Yin Thomas, yuen chi yan, Roy Ho, Wong Chun Yip, Pang Ho Yee, CHAN TSUN HIN, C Lee, KK Chan, Elaine Wong, Tracy Ng, Vicky Lui, Lam Ka Man, Wong Ho Wa, Au Yong Chun Sang, kelvin chuk, KEN, Tsang kin chiu, Yuk Ying Ching, Chang Wing hei, Thom cho, Alex Yu, Ben Wong, Simon Xi, Mok Siu Hang, Cryana Chan, Wilton, Caroline Wan, HO, Harry Hei Yin, Lam Hing Lun, Lam wing Hong, 吳子莉, Wai Man Raymond IP, Lee Ying Chi, Jason Ho, Jass Wang, Benny Mok, Herrick lee, William Leong Kuan Pui, Carrie Lam, Ada wong, Gloria Shia, KwokChiShing, Kwan Ching Lun Elsa, Ng Ka Ho,Andy, Siu Hor Yan, Samuel Leung, 劉秀馨, Emily Wong, Chan Hoi Shan, Alan Ng, Lee Pui Wa, Law Yee, sara wong, AO ka Kiu, Joanne Choi, Steffi, Kai Ming, flykid, Nil, Daniel Cho, Chan Wing Choi, Helsa Cho, H Chan, Chowwaikwok, 馬楚明, Chan man, Yan Cheung, Yip Shing, Fung YC, mickey choi, Rachel Man, Mokona Lam, Tsz Wai, Kong Sin Kan, YU WAI KI, Lam wing hsng, CHOW Tsz Ying, KWOK OI LAM ALICE, Max Chuu, CHAN WAI TIK, Dorothy Ho, P H Yang, Tom Tong, Paco Choi, Leung Yiu Lun Tobiah, Ho yuk ming, 劉偉傑, Lam Henry, Ron Chong, Lo Chi Man, Ruth Leung, Stella Mak, Ms, Stephanie Jor, Ching Yee Wah, Max Lee, Lui Wai Lok, Samuel Summer, Alex lau, Dante Kam, Jason Pong, LAU TIK WAN, Grace Sheung, Emily, Kiki, YIM Chun-ho,Philip, venus cheng, Kwong, Yick Wong, Chan Mei Ha Gloria, Ivan Cheng, CHEUNG Shek kan, Chak Ho Yin leo, Ho Kin Wai, Ken Tsang, Chan Yin Ha, Chris Wong, Wong Chi Yeung, so, so, Pat To Yan, Au Yiu Kai, Florence Tien, King Zen, Fung king tak, Phoebe So, Edward T. H. W., Hilda Chan, Chan Ka ming, 鄭惠儀, Leung Wing Tat, Lau Ka Ling, Liesel Li Wing Kar, Liesel Li Wing Kar, JASON, Alex Li, Yuen Chan, Rosaline Pi, Kung wai sum, C Y Mok, CHAN Chi Wai , Ballsir, C C CHAN, Ching Ka Sin, Tong Siu akeung, Venus Kwan, Venus Kwan, Ivan Chau, Wong Wai Kay, Wong Kwok Hing, Billy, David Kan, HUANG Jiamin, Wong Wing, SamNg, Jacky Yim, Chow Pui Ka, /, daniel wong, Calvin, YK Lau, Jeffrey Fong, Rex Lee, CHUNG HING SHING, Nil, Joyce Wong, No, Kit Ho, Wong Kwok Fai Ivan, ANNA YIU, Ng Yin Nei, ChanChingYuet, LEUNG FEI FUNG, Chan Pui Lam, Lee Yin, Carmen Li, Andrew Chan, Herman Wong, Yeung, Jess Wong, Chik chiu ming, jimmy chung, J Ma, Wilson Chiu, Chow Wai Shan, D Chung, peggy wong, Lawrence Wong, Apple Fong, Fong Lak Kwan, Lam Lan Heung, Lee Ho Kiu, WilsonCCK, nathan, Katie Lam, Mandy, Desmond Chan, Peter To, Wan Wai Man, Janet Mok, 杜桂華, Lau, Young Cheng, Monica Pang, Ida Pang, Hui Seamus, Wong Kin Ming, Amy Chan, Chin MY, Stephen Chu, Adrian Pang, Tang Wai Ming, Yeung Ka Man, Rex Lam, Wong Chun Kit, Yip, Cho Heung, Ko hoi kit, Danny Ng, Alex Lam, Lo Lok Yi, Kevin Chung, Miss Fung, Navin Yeung, Lizzy Wong, Tam Lok Kei, chan kwok keung, H L, Lui Cheuk Hei, Benjamin Lam, Chi Yin Chan, Annie Kwong, Freeman Leung, So Tan Laam, Siu Ka Yu, Pat Wong, Yuen ching ho, Yeung Yee po, singsingso, Ying Kai yin, HO CHI IAO, Thomas Chiang, Raymond Lo, Ivan Chiu, Yu Kin Kan, Andy Lee, Sunny Lau, May Cheung, Hon Konger, Tong Man Leuk, ma chi him, Mable Cheung, Ng Sing Yiu, Victor, Chan tsz kiu, Bili Lui, Ivy Chan, YS Sze, Cissie, Lam Shu Wing, Sam Lee, FONG, Chi Wah, CHAN, Sui Lin Melody, Cat Chan, Joe Wong, V Au, Dennis, Sherry Pun, Tse Wai Yue, Chan Chun Kit, simspson lai, Steve Chau, Chan Chung Wai, Lara Lo, /, Simon Yau, lee kam ting, pang hoi yan, Yip Man Ki, Gerry Shum, David Fu, Sharon Chan, FRANKIE Lee, Kate Fan, Chan kin shing, Brandon Yau, Carolus Kwok Jun Kin, yiukawa, Chung, E Choy, HYLee, becky leung, Cecily Mak, LO, CHOW Chun Hei, Cheung yuen man, Loong Ka Ho, nil, HK, Jessie, Leung Yau Shing, Minging, Amuro Lee, Rita Sun, Angela Chung, Happyli, Chow Sau Wan, Chan yuen keung, Tom Pang, Elaine Hui, CHAU Nga Wing, Lily tam, Chan Wai Man, Woo Leung Hee, Wilson Leung, Choy sau ying, Danny Lam, Carita Ng, C. H. To, Stanley Ng, Lucille Mok, Bamboo Chau, Dennis Chu, Shirley Leung, Hung Ming kin, Law Kin Chung, Yvonne Chak, Jessie Ma, Jimmy Lam, ken yang, Poon fung yee, W Y, Chan Ngai Ho, Yu, Tang Yu Chung, WL Suen, dirty press, Sin Cheung, Chan Wan Ka, Lam Kam Chiu Timothy, mike, Chan Kwok Bong, Chan Wui Sum, Kaphy Lee, WONG CHI HANG, Min, Chiu Kin Wah, Jwong, Kevin Chan, chris chiu, Lonhro Cheung, Money Leung, Chong yiu kwong, Fei Chung, Mike, NG KA WING, Frankie Chan, Leung sze ming, K Yuen, Venus Ng, Gary Cheung, SAM FUNG, Wong Lok Yan, Woo Man Yan Kitty, Law Shuk Yin, CHAN Tong Lai, Suki, Hung, Grace Bok, Chow CW, Ho ka ming, Lee Ka Yee, HAGO leung, clio, 潘智華, Lam Chun Hung, Ling Sun, Vienna Kwok, P Cheng, Kenneth Lau, Karen Ngan, PNS, Joyce Wong, Danny Wong, Annie Cheung, Keeny Wong, Andrew Chan, Nic Lam, Day, CHAN KA WAI, Michelle cheung, kwok pan YU, Ray Lam, Kit, 羅偉聰, JW, Raymond Lo, Alvin Lau, Yiu To Fai, Patrick tsui, Dennis Chung, Cheung Chun Ho, Navin Yeung, Lee Isabella, Sue Ng, Kannie lam, Chow Kit Yee, Leung Chun Ho, Tsang Hoi Kei, Chiu Ka Po, Suen Wing Fat, Paul Ting, Leung Kin Chung, Nicole choi, Chan Ka Wai, ching mui choi, Kitty Woo,

34 organisations
and 428 individuals have signed this petition