Police abusing power persecuting sex workers
Zi Teng is a sex workers concern organization. We pay high attention on the abuse of power against sex workers by the police.
In the past 3 years, we kept on asking the Police to stop the undercover agents receiving free sexual service in the course of investigation, but the Police refuses to revise the Police Code of Practice. Zi Teng received 324 complaints against the police from sex workers in 2004 and 2005. Among these complaints, 27 and 23 cases were reported in 2004 and 2005 respectively on undercover agents’ receipt of free masturbation service in the course of investigation. In addition, 14 cases were reported on the receipt of free oral sex service, while 8 cases were on the receipt of free sexual intercourse.
According to the Police Code of Practice, police officers are not allowed to receive sexual service in any kind during undercover operation, but they are allowed to have certain bodily intimacy, including the receipt of masturbation service. We have repeatedly urged the Police to revise the Code of Practice to stop the undercover agents receiving masturbation service. Legislators also raised their concern on this issue in the Legislative Council. Unfortunately, the Police still refuse to revise the Code of Practice. The receipt of masturbation service has become a certain type of ‘benefit’ to the undercover agents.
Besides, we received 22 reports in the past 2 years from sex workers on undercover agents breaching the Code or Practice. Undercover agents receive the service of oral sex and vaginal sex during operation. Some even deliberately picked on the young and pretty girls to provide free sexual service. After the receipt of sexual service, they will then destroy the evidence and throw away the condom.
One of the victims, Miss Li Yuen-yee jumped from the roof on 10 October 2005. According to her family members and her diary, she was framed and beaten by the police officers. The evidence was also destroyed by the Police. The undercover agent even received the service of oral sex. She killed herself to defend her reputation. Li’s family was extremely discontented with how the police investigate Li’s case. They filed a complaint to the Complaint Against Police Office (CAPO), demanding the Police to investigate Li’s case impartially.
The Coroner’s Court will inquire into the death of Li from May 8 to 11. Li’s family hopes the truth will come out in the inquest, restoring the deceased to her reputation.
Legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing and Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung has paid high attention on both issues of police abusing power as well as receiving free sexual service. They also helped much on Li’s case. They hope to arouse more concern from the public; to make the Police investigate Li’s case impartially; and to stop the police abusing their power.
We believe that everyone is equal in front of the legal system. Sex workers are also entitled to impartial legal treatment.
We urge for the followings:
The Coroner’s Court inquires into Li’s death impartially and publicizes the inquest result.
The Police seriously investigate and penalize the guilty police officers.
The Police Code of Practice will be revised, clearly forbidding undercover agents receiving sexual service in any kind, including sexual intercourse, oral sex and masturbation.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) takes the initiative to investigate the cases in which undercover agents receive free sexual service and abuse their power during operation.
We sincerely hope that the public can show more concern on Li’s case!
For further enquiry, please feel free to contact:
Miss Lam Yee Ling, Zi Teng staff Tel: 2332-7182
Miss Emily Lau Wai-hing
Mr Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung
May 2 2006
The Suicide of Miss Li Yuen-yee
Li Yuen-yee was a local sex worker in Hong Kong. She was 28 years old when she jumped from the roof on 10 October 2005. According to her conversation with family members and her diary, Li was framed and beaten by the police officers on October 5 2005. The evidence was also destroyed by the Police. The undercover agent even received the service of oral sex. She chose to kill herself to defend her reputation. Li received the call from her agent on October 5. She was told to provide sexual service at a hotel in Wanchai for HKD$3,000. She asked the client (the undercover agent) for HKD500 when she arrived, and decided to collect the remaining amount after providing the service. The agent refused to pay her the remaining amount after she provided the service of oral sex. She called her agent and handed the phone over to the client. During the phone conversation, the client said, “I don’t have enough money”, “She just worked half an hour, it is too expensive”. He still refused to pay. He opened the wallet and put on his pants trying to leave. Li told her agent that the client tried to leave without paying for the service. Her agent told Li not to let the client go. Later, when the client opened the wallet, Li took the remaining amount from the wallet and tried to leave. The client beat her, and Li escaped from the room. The client followed her to the hotel lobby where she was stopped by the police officers. She was charged with threat attempt and taken to the police station. The police officers confiscated Li’s purse. One female officer even threw away the condom, which the undercover agent left after receiving the service of oral sex. At this moment, Li then realized the client was an undercover agent. Li told her sister the said incident on October 6. She felt bad to be framed, worrying much that the judge and lawyer would stand on the side of the police. She even cried in front of us for the following several days after the incident. She repeatedly expressed she preferred death rather than going to jail innocently. Eventually, she killed herself on October 10. She left a letter to her family, asking them to find out the truth to restore her to reputation.