Foreign experts quit HK police brutality probe in blow to govt
HONG KONG: An international panel of experts hired to advise Hong Kong on the police response to huge pro-democracy protests announced yesterday they were quitting, saying the watchdog was not fit for purpose "in a society that values freedoms and rights".
The group's damning conclusion is a blow to Hong Kong's government, which has insisted its Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is capable of holding the force to account over growing claims of brutality.
"We ultimately concluded that a crucial shortfall was evident in the powers, capacity and independent investigative capability of IPCC," the experts said.
Critics have long charged the body lacks adequate powers, is stacked with pro-establishment figures and has been toothless when it comes to keeping the police in line.
It can only handle complaints forwarded by the police themselves and cannot subpoena documents or compel witnesses to testify.
Such limitations, the expert panel said, do not "begin to meet the standards citizens of Hong Kong would likely require of a police watchdog operating in a society that values freedoms and rights".
Protests have rocked Hong Kong for more than six months, with up to two million people taking to the streets.
The panel was announced in September and was chaired by Sir Dennis O'Connor, who was tasked by the British government to write a report on the police after the 2011 London riots. It included current or former police watchdog chiefs from Canada, Australia and New Zealand and a British specialist on crowd behaviour.
A month ago, a leaked statement from the group revealed they felt the police watchdog was not equipped to carry out a proper investigation and suggested a fully independent inquiry would be better suited.
But their frank assessment was not welcomed by Mr Anthony Neoh, the IPCC's head. He gave an interview to a mainland Chinese media outlet rebuking the panel, saying they "do not understand Hong Kong's situation". - AFP