Pan-dems propose rioting jail terms reductionLocal | 2 Dec 2019 5:40 pm
Pro-democracy lawmakers Au Nok-hin and Chu Hoi-dick said today that they are planning to move a private member’s bill to drastically cut the maximum punishment for rioting and unlawful assembly convictions, RTHK reports.
They want the longest jail term for rioting to be reduced from 10 years to three, and the five years for unlawful assembly brought down to just six months.
Another change they are proposing to the Public Order Ordinance would mean there would have to be at least a dozen people involved in disorder for it to be classed as a riot, up from a minimum of three at the moment.
Speaking to the media alongside Au and Chu, barrister and former Civic Party lawmaker Margaret Ng said the ordinance as it stands is seriously out of date and breaches human rights.
"The present riot law is in the Public Order Ordinance section 19 and that was passed in 1967, immediately after the riots. It has never been really changed from that day," Ng said.
"In the meantime, human rights law has developed and in Hong Kong we have the Bill of Rights Ordinance...after 1997 we have the Basic Law which protects fundamental human rights, such as freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and so on."
Ng told RTHK's Candice Wong that it is time to change the ordinance because of the way the police are charging anyone present during protest clashes with rioting, even if they are just observing what is happening and take no part in any violence that occurs.
"The police have been abusing the very broad definition of rioting and unlawful assembly to arrest thousands of people. Five hundred people being already charged with rioting is unthinkable," she said.
The proposal to amend the ordinance needs the nod from Chief Executive Carrie Lam before it can be tabled and debated in the Legislative Council.
Au said Lam should give them the green light as a gesture of goodwill towards protesters. He added that the authorities should stop prosecuting people under the ordinance in the meantime.
"So many people are being arrested because of the anti-extradition bill movement so I think the government should try to review whether the ordinance really reflects justice when they proceed to the courts," he said.-Photo: RTHK