Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has appointed four members, including anti-Occupy activist Barry Chin Chi-yung, onto the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC).
The IPCC is an independent statutory body responsible for monitoring and reviewing the investigation of complaints against members of the Police Force. It is currently chaired by Larry Kwok Lam-kwong and has 28 members.
The appointment notice was published on Thursday in the government gazette. Also announced was the controversial appointment of Arthur Li Kwok-cheung as the new Chairman of the University of Hong Kong Council.
Barry Chin Chi-yung and Jose-Antonio Maurellet were both newly appointed onto the council, while Lisa Lau Man-man and Ann So Lai-chun have been reappointed. The appointment will take effect January 1, 2016, for a period of two years.
Chin is a lawyer and a member of pro-Beijing political group Silent Majority. He has been vocal in his opposition of the pro-democracy Occupy protests last year and has taken part in anti-Occupy campaigns on the street, Apple Daily reported.
Maurellet is a barrister at Des Voeux Chambers. Last year, in a letter to the Financial Times, he rejected the idea that rule of law and freedom has been eroded in Hong Kong. “It is true that the legislature is at present not elected on a one man-one vote basis (the first true direct elections were only introduced six years prior to the end of colonial rule); however, freedoms and the rule of law are well.” The piece was later picked up by Ta Kung Pao.
Speaking on the appointments, a government spokesperson said, “We are most grateful for the invaluable contributions of the IPCC in ensuring a fair, effective and transparent two-tier police complaints handling system in Hong Kong. We trust that the IPCC would continue to discharge its statutory functions effectively and uphold the efficient operation of the police complaints handling system.”
Ma Ngok, head of the Department of Government and Public Administration at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, told Ming Pao that the appointment will make the public feel as if the government wants to appoint “police sympathisers” onto the IPCC, and it could lower the public confidence towards the watchdog body. Ma said that this showed the government did not care about its image; rather, they wanted to ensure they are in control of power and that nothing will go wrong.
The United Nations Committee Against Torture noted earlier this month that the IPCC remains an advisory and oversight body of CAPO’s investigations, with no power to conduct investigations on its own. In a hearing session in Geneva in November, the Committee members also said that the police complaint mechanism was not completely independent. They suggested that, other than increasing the power of the IPCC, a new independent mechanism should be formed in order to monitor law enforcement’s use of force and actions related to torture.