Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Demanding to Stop All Torture and Inhuman Treatment towards Sex workers

Zi Teng is a sex worker concern group focusing on the rights of sex workers.
JJJ Association is a sex workers’ organization
Migrant Support Network is a group concerns and supports migrant sex workers

In November this year, the United Nation has examined the 2nd report submitted by the Hong Kong SAR on “Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment “. Zi Teng has also sent a report on the present condition of sex workers’ human rights.

The HK Government has not carried out the responsibility of the convention, which is protecting civilians from cruel and inhumane treatment and also prevent public officials to offend the rights of the citizens. The Government allowed law-executing officers to abuse their power, improperly arrest and charge, with torture and inhumanely abuse and insult the sex workers. The UN has many items to inquire the HK Government, including how they treated the detainees, the discipline of law executors, strip search and the Complaints Against Police Office (CAPO), etc. The United Nation has expressed concern about police officers receiving free sex services.

Zi Teng raised her doubt to the UN and hereby we include some of the UN’s query:

  1. Law executing officers inhumanely treat sex workers

    1. Locked in an Iron Cage
      In 2005, 80 sex workers were locked inside a small and filthy iron cage exposed in an open air car park in Tsim Sha Tsui. The CAPO (Complaints Against Police Office) had refused to accept the complaint and there was no police officer punished.
    2. Li Yuen Yee Incident
      During an undercover operation, police officer Yau Sue Ming refused to pay Li Yuen Yee after receiving oral sex service. The used condom she tried to keep as evidence was taken from her and disposed of. He also falsely accused her of threatening and blackmail. Li felt angry and jumped off from a building, coroner’s court has finished the case in May 06. The court has discovered that the police officer has concealed the fact that he had used condom and many other behaviors that were breaching the conduct. Li’s family has complained to the CAPO. Three years has passed and there is still no conclusion. Till now, the officer concern is still at large and not having any disciplinary punishment.

  2. During the arrest and investigation, sex workers were treated with violence and receiving inhumane treatment

    The UN has expressed concern in Q27 about the complaints from sex workers towards police officers in undercover operation and also the treatment towards them during the investigation and interrogation (including strip search and approval for receiving sex services, etc.). The UN doubted that if there is investigation or measures to protect sex workers and punish those police officers who are responsible for abusing their power like using the handcuffs unnecessarily, forcibly entering a premise and take photos, sexually harassing or beating up sex workers, etc. In 2006 and 2007, there were more than 1249 cases of complaints towards the police by sex workers.

    The police use crackdown on the pimp and exploitation against prostitution as an excuse to arrest and intimidate sex workers. However, it is the sex workers, not prostitution, become the target for their crackdown. For example, the police use the excuse of investigating girl-under-age, taking officials from the Water Department, the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department to the one-apartment-one girl premises in Yau Ma Tei and Tsim Sha Tsui district to take photos, register and intimidate sex workers. Furthermore, the police use “undercover operation” as an excuse to sexually harass sex workers like caressing their breasts, requesting them to take off their pants. The arrested girls were being asked to have photos taken with their clothes pulled up.

  3. Rights of the Detainee Denied

    The detained ones were forced to sign statement forms, requests for phone call were rejected and not allowed to contact any lawyers. The police refused to provide copy for the statement form (with Sham Shui Po Police Station the most serious). Until the time when they left the police station, the police gave the arrested a notice with the content reflecting it is a show business for the police and not really respecting the rights of the arrested girls. (For example, the police have refused many times to explain how the arrested ones sending emails and telex)

  4. Strip Search

    In Q26, the UN has expressed concern about nude search incidents.

    In 2007, there were 95 sex workers who were arrested and being conducted a Strip search. The new guidelines of July 08 is just justifying the procedure for Strip search. Under the new guidelines, the police still do not need to explain why such a search is being conducted. Strip search is being done to 6 sex workers under the new guidelines and 4 of them even had their pants removed and confiscated.

    We request the police:

    1. The police should revise their guidelines. They need to specify clearly under what circumstances and with what kind of evidences the police can conduct different levels of body search. For example, when a police officer doubts that the detainees may hurt herself/himself, he should give substantial evidences to back up his judgment that she/he will harm her/his own self. Not just saying, “I hope she/he has nothing hidden to harm herself/himself or others” as a reason to conduct a body search.
    2. Body search can only be approved by officers with inspector level or above
    3. Using instrument and technological products to replace primitive level of conducting body search using human hands and eyes in order to reduce the chance for police officers to abuse their power and to make the search to be more effectively executed, respecting and protecting the privacy of the detainees.

  5. Free Sex Service for the Police have aroused the Concern of the UN

    In Q27 the UN has expressed concern about police officers often abuse their power to enjoy free masturbation service during undercover operations. From 2004 to 2008, there were 100 police officers, under the support of the policy, receiving different kinds of sex services and masturbation is always being used as an excuse for police officers who actually have received oral sex and sexual intercourse service.

    According to various legal perspectives from Simon Young, Assistant Professor of Legal Department of the Hong Kong University, he pointed out that police officers allowed to receive masturbation service is not only spending public money for personal pleasure but also violating the moral standard. He further pointed out that if the police have enough evidence to charge, it is not necessary for the police officer to receive sex service. He referred to the undercover operation in other countries like Australia (Victoria, Sydney, Melbourne), Canada (Ottawa, Montreal), Chicago of the US and Ireland. All of the above have stated clearly that it is forbidden for police officers to participate in or accept any sex service.

    Under the new guidelines in 2007, with the approval of his senior, a police officer is allowed to receive masturbation service. The guidelines are still allowing the police to enjoy free sex service. The UN has requested the HK police to provide feedback in this issue. In July 2007, the police have once promised to gather information on undercover operations (such as how many police officers have received masturbation service), however, they suddenly change their attitude and refuse to provide the information. The police only stated that there are 723 undercover operations from October 07 to June 08 but refusing to state the no. of cases concerning police officers receiving masturbation service and also the verdicts resulted from the operations from the court. Recently, the phenomenon of the police receiving sex services has revived. There are already 4 cases of police officers receiving sex intercourse service. We demand the police to revise their guidelines and prohibit any police officer to receive sex service in any form.

  6. Complaints Against Police Office(CAPO) fail to handle Complaints

    In Q29, the UN has expressed concern about Complaints Against Police Office. According to the information from the police, from January 07 to 08, there were 34 complaints from sex workers and other related organizations against the police. Most victims are afraid of revenge and did not dare to complain and there were cases that the police pay revenge on sex worker who filed a complaint. When some victims filed a complaint, they were obstructed by the CAPO. CAPO not only reject to accept complaints about power abuse of the police and even when they accept the complaints, they keep delaying in disclose the result the investigation (for example, Li Yuen Yee incident has taken place for 3 years, Ms Lai’s case for more than 2 years). Also, the details of the complaint are not truly recorded and the complainers themselves were being threatened and obstructed in the process. Even more, there were police officers, who were being complained, showed up in the working premises of the complainers and have them threatened even to the point that they will spend a longer time in jail. The whole system of the police using their own resource to handle complaints is just a system of protecting the police to continue to abuse their power without any consequence.

    Although the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) is a legitimate organization for police complaints, it does not have the rights for investigation and thus cannot investigate misconduct in individual police officers or the administration of the police force. It cannot ensure a fair handling of complaints. The government should set up individual organization to investigate complaints of the police.

We Demand the Followings:

  1. Exterminate all discrimination of sex workers and protect their human rights.
  2. Stop immediately the tortures and inhumane treatment by the public officials and punish seriously all those officers concern
  3. Evaluate again the guidelines for body search
  4. Revise again the guidelines to prohibit police officers to enjoy any form of sex service
  5. Set up an individual system to investigate and handle complaints against the police, especially those about using tortures.

Contact: Elaine Lam (Zi Teng)
TEL: 23327182 FAX: 23904928

27 October, 2008