The main functions of the Independent Police Complaints Council are: “Observing, monitoring and reviewing the handling and investigation of reportable complaints by the Police.” But so far, whether IPCC has been doing its job is highly in doubt.
The disputes concerning the police’s handling of the Umbrella Movement over the past 18 days have further boiled up after videos showed a man being beaten at dawn by 7 police officers while his hands were tied behind his back. More than ever, the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) has an important role to play. But instead, the organisation has been no where to be seen on site.
Council members, such as HKU lecturer Eric Cheung and lawmakers, Kenneth Leung and Helena Wong, have been to the occupied sites to observe the police action in private capacity. However, Harbour Times has been told IPCC Chairman Larry Kwok has not been to any of the occupied areas since the outbreak of the movement. A source also said that the Council had vetoed the decision to send members to oversee police action, worried their safety might be jeopardised and that they might hinder police work. A member of the IPCC admitted that the Council has not done a proper job and feared its image will be tainted.
Over 500 complaints have been filed to IPCC since the movement kicked off but a member of the Council said none of the complaints are currently being processed. IPCC has hitherto held only one meeting. An urgent meeting last week lasted only for one to two hours and Harbour Times was told that no urgent meeting has been scheduled so far for the Ken Tsang’s incident. Sources inside IPCC also told us that some members have attempted in vain to call for meetings because the Chairman, Mr Kwok, and several others have been ‘too busy’.
At a press conference to condemn police violence this morning, Kenneth Leung, speaking as a LegCo member, urged Larry Kwok to “come out and face the public.” Also speaking to the press this morning, Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok said the Government has reacted to the Ken Tsang’s incident immediately and the Complaints Against Police Reporting Centre is handling the case. 6 of the police officers involved were removed from their current duties. There has been no apology from the Government so far.
While IPCC has no authority to initiate an investigation, Kenneth Leung expressed that there is still room for the Council to play their part. He said the IPCC are in the position to offer the Police advice, such as asking them to increase the audible volume when making announcements, or avoiding the use of alternate-sided warning flags. The tension between the protesters and the Police is now at a critical point after the latest development and it is high time for IPCC to do its job and react to all the alleged cases against the Police. It can start by coming out and giving a public statement as soon as possible.
HT has raised the concern, please see: https://www.facebook.com/HarbourTimesHK/posts/696748320401715