Case Conference at Legislative Council on sex workers’ complaints against police

Sex workers have always been suppressed by the police like, the receipt of hand job service during undercover operation, false accusation, the suicide of Li Yuen-yee after police frame-up, and different kinds of police abuse. Zi Teng has repeatedly submitted our demands to the Legislative Council. Legislative Councilor Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung, Emily Lau Wai-hing and Margaret Ng Oi-yee convened the case conference on July 16, 2007 to discuss the problems shown in the case of Li Yuen-yee and Apple (pseudonym). Whenever Zi Teng provides information about police abuse, the police spokesperson will ask us to provide case as example. Yet, when we provide cases for their reference, the police spokespersons will tell us they will not comment on respective cases. This clearly shows how the police are irresponsible that they refuse to pay attention on and handle the cases properly. We urge the police to evaluate their current management and system actively and properly.

The wrongs of the police in their investigation of sex workers:

  1. False accusation, fake evidence, obstruct the course of justice
  2. Police abuse: take photos with cell phone, wrong use of handcuffs, physical assault
  3. Strip-search
  4. The receipt of sexual service by the police
  5. Misuse of law to suppress and eradicate sex workers

The loopholes of current complaint against police mechanism

  1. not properly keep the complaint evidence
  2. misdirect the complainant to withdraw the complaint
  3. modify the complainants’ use of words, minimize the seriousness of the complaint
  4. refuse to record every word of the complainant
  5. complainant is threatened after filing complaints
  6. delay of the explanation of investigation result

The Security Bureau states that the police is presently evaluating the undercover operation guidelines, but the police have not ever provided the information requested by the Security Panel. We urge the police to clearly set a deadline for the evaluation, but not using this as an excuse. We also hope that the police can really revise the guidelines after the evaluation by clearly forbidding the police officers from receiving sexual service of any kind (including hand job service). We are reluctant to see the outcome in which the police insist to keep the old guidelines. According to the letters written by the Ottawa police from Canada and Victoria police from Australia, they clearly state in their police guidelines that police officers are strictly prohibited from the involvement or receipt of sexual service. We can also conclude from the legal documents provided by Simon Young, Associate Professor at the University of Hong Kong, respectively in April and September 2006 (Appendix 1), that a police officer can still charge one person without any receipt of sexual service if s/he has enough evidence.

The police have begun their extensive raids and force the sex workers to answer and sign on their questionnaires, to provide any kind of information such as the advertising web site. There are a total of 352 sex workers complaining about the police actions. Even though the police claim that they are only aiming to arrest the triads behind and to protect sex workers from exploitation, the fact is that sex workers can no longer run their business. The final outcome is that sex workers are completely eradicated. They are the one and only victim. As the law enforcers, the police should never abuse their power. They should further obey the law when they are on duty. They should not frame or suppress sex workers. We urge the police to stop abusing their power and waster their resources, manpower to raid on sex workers. The government should make good use of their resources to better the livelihood of the community. Zi Teng has presently collected signatures from more than 3000 local citizens, overseas organizations and sex workers, to stop all police raids on sex workers.

Follow-up after the Legislative Council case conference

  1. Legislative councilors submit the signatures from the public and sex workers to the Security Bureau.
  2. Urge the Security Panel of the Legislative Council to re-examine
    1. the police undercover operation guidelines.
    2. the problems on the Complain Against Police Office (CAPO)
    3. police harassment and suppression on sex workers

We have the following demands:

  1. Police stop misusing power and framing sex workers, particularly the arbitrary arrest and accusation of street-based sex workers.
  2. Evaluate current body-search procedures. Police should stop strip- search and repeated body-search on the same person.
  3. Police should set up clear undercover operation guidelines and learn from the examples of police force in other countries by clearly forbidding undercover officers from the receipt of sexual service of any kind, including sexual intercourse, oral sex and hand job service.
  4. Investigate the cases in which police use cell phone to take photos of sex workers. Publicly release the investigation result.
  5. CAPO stop forcing sex workers to withdraw their complaints. Set up an independent complaint mechanism to investigate the abuse of police power.
  6. Police stop suppressing sex workers.
  7. Police stop forcing sex workers to provide information and sign on the papers.
  8. Police stop abusing their power and waster their resources, manpower to raid on sex workers. The government should make good use of their resources to better the livelihood of the community, but not raiding on social marginalized who self-support themselves.
  9. Decriminalize sex work.

Lam Yee Ling, Elene
Zi Teng (sex workers concern organization) 23327182