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Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                                  

Hong Kong

Police are forbidden by law to employ torture, disappearance, and other forms of abuse. They generally respect this ban in practice, and complaints of abuse are investigated. For example, in February 2017, seven police officers were sentenced to two years in prison for beating a protester in an incident that was captured on video in 2014.

However, the 2015 disappearances of five Hong Kong booksellers into police custody on the mainland continue to cast doubt on the local government’s capacity to protect residents from abuses by Chinese authorities.

[Freedom House Country Report, 2018]

Description: Description: Description: HongKong

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Hong Kong.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Hong Kong

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 22 July 2021]


Physical Conditions: According to activists, detained protesters were held at the Castle Peak Immigration Center under unacceptable hygienic conditions and subjected to verbal and mental abuse. In response to a 2019 police brutality allegation and after the September 2019 closure of the San Uk Ling Holding Center, in May the Hong Kong Police Force border commissioner convened a task force to investigate the accusations made by protesters..


Democracy activists were increasingly denied bail. In December during a routine bail check-in, media owner and democracy activist Jimmy Lai was arrested on fraud charges related to the use of office space and denied bail. Legal scholars noted bail denial is unusual in civil suits;

Freedom House Country Report

2018 Edition

[accessed 12 May 2020]


Police are forbidden by law to employ torture, disappearance, and other forms of abuse. They generally respect this ban in practice, and complaints of abuse are investigated. For example, in February 2017, seven police officers were sentenced to two years in prison for beating a protester in an incident that was captured on video in 2014.

However, the 2015 disappearances of five Hong Kong booksellers into police custody on the mainland continue to cast doubt on the local government’s capacity to protect residents from abuses by Chinese authorities. One of the five, Lee Bo, was allegedly seized in Hong Kong and smuggled across the border to the mainland. He and three others were eventually released, but they reportedly faced surveillance and harassment; the fifth, Swedish citizen Gui Minhai, remained in some form of detention on the mainland in 2017. Separately, in January 2017, Chinese billionaire Xiao Jianhua was apparently abducted by Chinese officials from a Hong Kong hotel and escorted across the border to the mainland.

Hong Kong police officers convicted of beating protester

BBC, 14 February 2017

[accessed 27 July 2017]

Seven police officers in Hong Kong have been convicted of beating a protester during pro-democracy rallies in 2014.   The group, charged with intentionally inflicting grievous bodily harm, were found guilty of a lesser charge of causing bodily harm.   TV cameras caught the officers kicking and punching Ken Tsang, who was handcuffed, in a nearby park.

Hong Kong: Police Torture : Strong Arm of the Law

Asian Human Rights Commission, 27 August 2001

[accessed 23 Jan 2014]

But beatings of suspects by Hong Kong police officers, say human rights activists, lawyers, and even, in private, some police officers, are commonplace.   The question is: does a culture of violence permeate "Asia's Finest," with the force stuck in an old-fashioned colonial mind-set of controlling the population rather than serving it?   One prominent criminal barrister says one in three suspects complain to him that they have suffered some form of physical assault by local police, while half encounter criminal intimidation or verbal threats.

In one of the worst examples of alleged brutality, a 37-year-old man died a day after allegedly being beaten for 20 minutes by three Police Tactical Unit officers at a busy Tai Po market three years ago. The Complaints Against Police Office (CAPO) has investigated the case, but its findings have not yet been released. No criminal case was brought.   Jailings of Hong Kong police for assault are unusual. Since 1993, only one other case has resulted in prison terms. In 1995, five officers were incarcerated after appeals failed - for between three and seven months, and a sixth received a suspended sentence, for a 1993 brawl with off-duty customs officers.   And yet, speaking on condition of anonymity, some senior police justify the strong-arm tactics.   "It's to achieve success in their objective," said one senior officer. "You may know this guy's committed the crime. It's the frustration, and if you've got the wrong mentality then I think you're tempted to assault. The degree of assaults can go from being fairly  minor shouting and perhaps slapping around, which I would say is fairly common, to killing someone."   "It's so frustrating sometimes," echoed another, with two decades' experience. "You've got the evidence here, and the guy you know did it there, but you just can't put them together."

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture

U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment  -- Doc. CAT/C/HKG/CO/4 (2009)

[accessed 24 February 2013]

Independent investigation of police misconduct

12. The Committee welcomes the enactment of the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) Ordinance on 12 July 2008 converting the IPCC into a statutory body, as previously recommended by the Committee.  However, the Committee is concerned that, while the statutory framework has reinforced the independent role of the IPCC, the latter only has advisory and oversight functions to monitor and review the activity of the Complaints Against Police Office (CAPO), which is still - in fact - the body responsible for handling and investigating complaints of police misconduct.  In this respect, the Committee also notes with concern the information that - despite the considerable number of reportable complaints filed with the CAPO – a small percentage of them were considered as substantiated and only in one case an officer has been prosecuted and convicted of a criminal offence.


For current articles:: Search Amnesty International Website

[accessed 2 January 1, 2019]

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Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 31 January 2013]

[accessed 4 July 2019

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – The law forbids prison guards from extorting confessions by torture, insulting prisoners' dignity, and beating or encouraging others to beat prisoners; however, police and other elements of the security apparatus employed torture and degrading treatment in dealing with some detainees and prisoners. Officials acknowledged that torture and coerced confessions were chronic problems and began a campaign aimed at curtailing these practices. Former detainees credibly reported that officials used electric shocks, prolonged periods of solitary confinement, incommunicado detention, beatings, shackles, and other forms of abuse.

After a November visit, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak concluded that torture remained widespread, although the amount and severity decreased. He reported that beatings with fists, sticks, and electric batons were the most common tortures. Cigarette burns, guard-instructed beatings by fellow inmates, and submersion in water or sewage were also reported. Nowak further found that many detainees were held for long periods in extreme positions, that death row inmates were shackled or handcuffed 24 hours per day, and that systematic abuse was designed to break the will of detainees until they confessed. Procedural and substantive measures to prevent torture were inadequate. Nowak found that members of some house church groups, Falun Gong adherents, Tibetans, and Uighur prisoners were specific targets of torture. The government said Nowak's preliminary report was inaccurate because he had visited only three Chinese cities (Beijing, Lhasa, and Urumqi) and urged him to revise conclusions in his final report.

Since the crackdown on Falun Gong began in 1999, estimates of Falun Gong adherents who died in custody due to torture, abuse, and neglect ranged from several hundred to a few thousand (see section 2.c.). In October Falun Gong adherents Liu Boyang and Wang Shouhui of Changchun, Jilin Province, reportedly died in custody after being tortured by police.

During the year police continued to use torture to coerce confessions from criminal suspects, although the government made efforts to address the problem of torture. A one-year campaign by the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP) to punish officials who infringed on human rights, including coercing confessions through torture or illegally detaining or mistreating prisoners, ended in May. The campaign uncovered more than 3,700 cases of official abuse.

A series of wrongful convictions in murder cases came to light in which innocent persons were convicted on the basis of coerced confessions. Among them, Nie Shubin of Hebei Province, who was executed in 1995 for a murder-rape, was exonerated in January after the true killer confessed. She Xianglin of Hubei Province was exonerated in March of murdering his wife in 1994 after she reappeared alive and well. The SPP campaign resulted in the prosecution of 1,924 officers and 1,450 convictions. Among them, a Gansu Province police officer was sentenced to life in prison in January for torturing a suspect to death. In June three Yunnan Province police officers were sentenced to one year in prison for torturing a suspect and rendering him disabled. At the campaign's conclusion, the SPP announced that preventing coerced confessions was its most important supervisory priority. Scholars advocated reform of police interrogation practices. In one highly publicized experiment, officials ordered audio and videotaping of police interrogations. Suspects in a few locations were offered the opportunity to have a lawyer present during interrogation.

During the year there were reports of persons, including Falun Gong adherents, sentenced to psychiatric hospitals for expressing their political or religious beliefs (see section 1.d.). Some were reportedly forced to undergo electric shock treatments or forced to take psychotropic drugs.

Petitioners and other activists sentenced to administrative detention also reported being tortured. Such reports included being strapped to beds or other devices for days at a time, beaten, forcibly injected or fed medications, and denied food and use of toilet facilities. A petitioner reportedly choked to death from force-feeding in a police-run psychiatric hospital in Beijing, according to a released inmate. Mao Hengfeng, a Shanghai housing petitioner who reportedly suffered various forms of torture while in reeducation-through-labor, was released in September, but authorities continued to monitor and harass her.

Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 5   Civil Liberties: 2   Status: Partly Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 31 January 2013]

LONG URL   ç 2009 Country Reports begin on Page 21

[accessed 12 May 2020]

Hong Kong’s police force, which remains firmly under the control of civilian authorities, is not known to be corrupt. Police are forbidden by law to employ torture and other forms of abuse. However, official figures indicated that police conducted over 1,600 strip searches between July and September. Arbitrary arrest and detention are illegal; suspects must be charged within 48 hours of their arrest. Prison conditions generally meet international standards.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Hong Kong",, [accessed <date>]