Govt warns of unlawful assemblies

September 28, 2020

Anyone advertising, publicising or taking part in a public procession on October 1 may violate the law, the Security Bureau said today.


The bureau made the statement and noted that, following a hearing, the Appeal Board on Public Meetings & Processions had upheld the decision by Police regarding its objection to the procession and the activity concerned is an unauthorised assembly.


The Security Bureau is aware that some people on the Internet claim that they will take part in the procession regardless of whether it is authorised or not, and advocate the use of violence, including hurling petrol bombs and illegally blocking roads, in making their demands.


Such acts seriously breach public peace and the offences are punishable by long-term imprisonment, the bureau emphasised.


According to the Hong Kong Bill of Rights and the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights, the freedoms of procession and assembly are subject to restrictions as prescribed by law in the interests of public order, public safety and the interests of others.


Court rulings have also pointed out that once a protest involves the use or the threat of using violence, the protest would have gone beyond the constitutionally guaranteed bounds of peaceful demonstration.


Anyone who commits the offence of taking part in an unauthorised assembly is liable to a maximum penalty of five years' imprisonment while those who commit the offence of riot are liable to a maximum penalty of 10 years' imprisonment.


In addition, the procession may be in breach of relevant offences under the Prevention & Control of Disease (Prohibition on Group Gathering) Regulation regarding prohibited group gatherings, and the gathering is likely to increase the risk of spreading COVID-19 in the community.  


The bureau stressed that Police will take resolute enforcement action in strict accordance with the law against any illegal act to protect public order and public safety.

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