HK loosens guidelines on use of force by cops: Report , Latest World News - The New Paper

HK loosens guidelines on use of force by cops: Report

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This comes under a colonial-era rule that has not been used in 50 years

HONG KONG: Hong Kong has loosened guidelines on the use of force by police as it struggles to stamp out anti-government protests that have rocked the Asian financial hub for nearly four months, according to documents seen by Reuters yesterday.

The city is also expected to ban face masks under a colonial-era emergency law that has not been used in half a century, media reported.

The loosening of restrictions on the use of force came into effect shortly before some of the most violent turmoil seen in the protests on Tuesday, with police firing about 1,400 rounds of tear gas, 900 rubber bullets and six live rounds, as protesters threw petrol bombs and wielded sticks.

More than 100 people were wounded, including a teenage secondary school student who was shot in the chest and wounded.

It was the first time a demonstrator had been shot by live fire.

In the documents seen by Reuters, the police manual changed some guidelines on how officers could act when considering force. It also removed a line that stated officers should be accountable for their actions.

Police declined to comment when asked if amendments had been made.

The unrest, which began over opposition to a now-withdrawn extradition bill that would have allowed people to be sent to mainland China for trial and morphed into a wider pro-democracy movement, shows no sign of letting up.


Protesters, fired up over the shooting, are planning more demonstrations at shopping malls across 11 districts yesterday night and throughout the weekend.

Media reports of an expected ban on face masks, which many protesters wear to conceal their identities and shield themselves from tear gas, sent Hong Kong's stock market up to a one-week high.

The government decided to impose the ban under the law giving police sweeping emergency powers in a special meeting of the city's Executive Council, media outlets TVB and Cable TV reported.

Ms Elizabeth Quat, a lawmaker for a pro-Beijing political party, told a news conference the measure was aimed at stopping "illegal assemblies".

She said: "This law is not targeting peaceful protesters. It is focused on targeting those rioters who have committed heinous crimes."

But pro-democracy lawmakers fear the emergency powers could be used to further curtail freedoms. - REUTERS