Stop All Frame-up for Street Sex-Workers
Appeal to Police’s Vexatious Arrest of Street Sex-Workers and Tourists
On 18th March 2003, France passed a bill. This bill authorizes the police to arrest street sex-workers even if they are not soliciting but just standing. Sex-worker organizations deem that it is a serious offence to the human rights of sex-workers.
The law in HK only allows the police to arrest those sex-workers who are soliciting publicly. However, the police unreasonably arrest those girls who are just standing and walking in the streets. This not only involves arresting innocent girls, also creates room for the police to abuse their power, like using mobile phone to record the faces of the girls, threatening and beating them to make them admit themselves as sex-workers. Some policemen even bear false witness and falsely accuse those who are arrested. This is obstructing the course of justice. Among those falsely accuses, the charge of “Soliciting for an immoral purpose” is widely used.
To stop the police to frame-up and falsely accuse sex-workers, Zi Teng and other sex-workers supporters to promote this “Against Police’s Frame-up” campaign and request the police to stop the false accusations and charges on those arrested and to follow their operation guidelines in their arrests.
According to existing law, sex-work and sex-workers do not offend the law. However, if somebody solicits that to use money in exchange of sex-service, then she/he will offend the criminal law Chapter 200 Section 147 “Soliciting for an immoral purpose”. In other words, to arrest sex-workers with the above charge, she must first initiate the content of service and the monetary reward associated, till then the police can arrest. It is not against the law for sex-workers to walk or stand on the street with no intention to solicit. On the other hand, if a police officer initiates and asks the girl how much she charges, it is the police officer offend the law but not the sex-worker. In reality, it is very often for the police to initiate first. More often, the police just stop the girls and arrest them on spot. Those arrested are being coerced or coaxed to sign a piece of blank paper or false statement.
Attribute to the fact that the society has prejudice and discrimination towards sex-workers. They are being labeled as bad people or even criminals, that the judge tends to believe the statement of the police. This made sex-workers difficult to have a fair trial and further leave room for police abuse and false accusation.
These arbitrary arrests and false charges happened particularly to those who came from Mainland China. For the last 3 months, we have contacted 32 Mainland Chinese girls through outreach services and prison visiting , including sex-workers and normal tourists. Amongst these women, 24 were arrested without any evidence and more than 26 girls (80%) were being coaxed or forced to sign a false statement. Previously, a report from the University of Hong Kong has pointed out that 9 out of 19 Mainland Chinese girls who are charged with “Soliciting for an immoral purpose” had not solicited the police officers at all. Among these 9 cases, 4 of them were the police themselves who did the soliciting, while the other 5 girls were arrested after they were stopped and requested to show their travel documents by police. Since there girls do not understand the law, with the bureaucracy of the court and the prejudice of the judge, the girls are forced to admit the charge even if they do not break the law.
Even without arresting, the police try to stop them on the streets by hooks and by crooks. For example, they will force the girls to have their pictures taken, have them threatened and beaten up, etc. In 2006, Zi Teng has received 82 complaints that the police female workers to have their picture taken.
By what they did above, the police has not only violated the human rights but also drive the Mainland sex-workers to go underground and made them liable to personal risks and occupational health risks and even fall into the control of human traffickers and triad societies. The arbitrary arrest and frame-up of the police have made the number of charges increase drastically and thus giving the courts more workload to handle cases. According to the same study by the University of Hong Kong, in order not to accumulate cases, the judges often consider not the personal background of the defendant but use only 3 minutes to handle cases of the same category. This “factory line” legal proceeding decreases public confidence in the integrity of Hong Kong’s judicial system. Moreover, neither it is cheap for building new prisons, nor maintaining the routine operation of a prison. Each prisoner costs HK$500 a day. The police’s arbitrary arrests and frame-ups will only create more pressure for the jails, bring extra costs to the treasury, waste tax-payers’ money, ruin the innocent ones.
It is not an offence for sex workers to stand in streets. We thus demand the followings：
- The police to stop all arbitrary arrests, the making of false statement and frame-ups.
- To respect human rights and stop all abuse of police power and violence towards sex-workers and mainland tourists.
- To improve the proceeding of the court so that the defendant enjoys the fairest judgment.
- To stop all discrimination towards sex-workers and give them a fair trial in the proceeding.
- To decriminalize sex work and repeal all sex work-related criminal laws.
Contact：Zi Teng Staff, Chung Sze Wan Tel：2332 7182
Zi Teng is a sex-worker concern group, we believe each one of us, no matter what his/her job, caste, religions, sexual tendency or sex is, he/she has basic human rights. In front of the law or any system, he/she can be treated fairly and not be oppressed or offended by violence.