Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong has lost a lawsuit at the Small Claims Tribunal after he claimed to have been humiliated by prison officers.
Wong, secretary-general of the pro-democracy group Demosisto, said he was seeking HK$16,000 in compensation after being forced to answer questions while squatting naked at the Tung Tau Correctional Institution in 2017. At the time, he was serving a six-month sentence for unlawful assembly for his 2014 protest at the government’s Admiralty headquarters. He said that prison staff intentionally insulted him.
But Deputy Adjudicator Percy Yue said Wong lacked details to support his claim and there were inconsistencies.
Yue said Wong gave conflicting accounts as to how many times he had to squat naked, according to RTHK. And Wong failed to recall questions asked by officers, other than a query about his political background.
Three of the correctional officers involved told Yue that they followed procedures and completed the security check within five to eight minutes. They also said that asking about organisational ties was for prison management purposes and there was no malicious intent.
Yue said Wong may have mixed up the order of events, and seemed to only recall events he wished to remember.
Wong said he will file an appeal: “I am not surprised by the result,” he said outside court. “The key point of the case was that the room where the incident occurred did not have a security camera, and there was no objective footage. If there was footage, then it would certainly prove the incident was real.”
He said he will continue to call for the establishment of a watchdog for the correctional service.
The Correctional Services Department asked for around HK$12,000 in legal fees in light of the time spent by the Department of Justice and Correctional officers.
But Yue rejected the request, saying that it was their duty to appear at court for the case, and they were compensated with their salaries. Yue ordered Wong to pay only HK$221.5 to cover photocopying and transport fees, plus interest.