Press Statement: Police Not Regretful in persecuting Sex Workers

Zi Teng is a concern group in respect of sex workers.
Since October 2005, Zi Teng has been paying attention to the suicidal incident of Miss Li Yuen-yee attributable to police undercover operation. Li's family insists to fight for her justice despite the huge pressure behind.

Regarding the Li incident, the attitude of the police officers during the court trial, the hiding of facts (including but not limited to the use of condoms), the inconsistency of the witness statements of the police...all these make the public reasonably doubt and suspect that the police is trying to hide the facts for a particular reason; that the sergeant is trying to shield the guilty agents, and so on.

The tough attitude of every member of Li's family allows us deeply understand her innocence and unfairness faced, furthermore, her representation before death is definitely a call to the police for justice, to let the senior management of the police know the truth of the story and how their juniors behaved.

Since sex work is not acceptable to the society, sex workers are not protected, leading to the harshness of their working life, including violence, robbery, unpaid service whereby the sex workers can hardly seek assistance when necessary. Despite that the police is responsible for law enforcement, they do not try their best to protect the sex workers, they abuse their power instead in taking advantage of them and consuming "free" sex services during undercover operations.

Despite being reproached by the public for years, the police is still allowing or even "encouraging" the police officers receiving sex services via their operations1. The police guidelines on undercover operation provides that, in any event, the undercover agent is not allowed to have sexual intercourse, oral sex or offer for sex with male or female; if there is sexual intercourse and sufficient evidence is obtained and it does not affect the operation, the said intercourse must stop at once. The police, however, do not provide training or guidelines on what constitutes sufficient evidence, leading to a grey area and this results in the frequent abuse of the police receiving the service of hand jobs. There is no general rule on the sufficiency of evidence. The undercover agent may receive the whole process of hand job until ejaculation or just receive the service of hand jobs for a period of time. These kinds of sexual contacts are not necessary indeed. For instance, breading a condition of stay, prohibition on operating massage establishment without a license, keeping a vice establishment, and even blackmailing, is opined by different people that it is not necessary for the undercover agent to have sexual contact (including hand job) with the sex workers in order to obtain the so called sufficient evidence.

Despite that said undercover operation guideline clearly provides that undercover agents are not allowed to have sexual intercourse or oral sex, there are often occasions that the police officers infringe such guidelines in receiving the said services. However, the police officers often use hand jobs as their shields to avoid their liability. The current police complaint system is based on the police investigating themselves, thus the police officers who are complained of their acts are seldom made liable for what they have done. This obviously "encourages" the police officers to infringe the regulations.

Several legislators, legal scholars and even the public demand the police to expressly prohibit the police officers from receiving any kind of sex service during undercover operation, including sexual intercourse, oral sex and hand jobs. The police is, however, not regretful and refuses to amend the said guidelines, due to that the police officers pretty enjoy such special "benefit".

Li incident is a true tragedy. Li used her life to voice out her accusation against the injustice of the police. The police did not even attempt to remedy the situation but allow the police officers to abuse their power. The police even made false statements during the court trial. How long we have to wait and how many lives we have to lose in order to seeing the police admitting the seriousness of the problem?

Legislators Albert Ho Chun-yan, Emily Lau Wai-hing and Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung have been keeping an eye on the abuse of power by the police and the situation of "free" sex service thereof, they assist in following up the Li incident. We would like to draw the public attention towards the matter, and urge the police to face the problem and investigate the incident with justice, abstaining the police from abusing their power.

We hope the police and the government could accept the suggestions of Li's family members, to apologize to them; amend the said guidelines in order to prohibit the police officers from receiving any sex service during undercover operation; investigate the case and publicize the findings; appoint an independent commission to investigate the guilty undercover agent; protect sex workers, remove any kind of discrimination against them and pay due respect to their rights.

Contact Person: Elaine Lam 2332 7182 (Zi Teng)

17 May 2006

1 For the past 3 years, we have been protesting against police officers from receiving sex service during undercover operation, however, the police still refuse to amend the related guidelines. in 2004-5, Zi Teng has received 324 reported cases of complaints to the police lodged by sex workers. Among these cases, complaints of undercover agents receiving the services of hand jobs amount to 27 and 23 cases respectively in 2004 and 2005. The number of cases whereby the undercover agents receive oral sex and sexual intercourse are 14 and 8 respectively.