HK justice minister vows impartiality on police brutality

15th October 2014, Comments 0 comments

Hong Kong's Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen said Wednesday that any prosecution arising from police brutality would be handled impartially and said electoral rights in the city should be subject to "reasonable restraint".

On a visit to London, Yuen said he had not seen footage of an alleged assault on a handcuffed pro-democracy protester but told AFP there were "very well-established procedures" in Hong Kong to handle police complaints.

Referring to any possible criminal prosecutions arising from the alleged police beating, Yuen said: "I can guarantee that if there is any need to move in that direction, my department will handle the matter in an independent and impartial manner."

Demonstrators in Hong Kong have blocked roads in the semi-autonomous Chinese city since September 28, angry at Beijing's insistence that it vet election candidates for the city's next leader in 2017.

Tensions have increased in recent days as police have begun tearing down some barricades around protest sites.

Giving a speech about constitutional reform at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London, Yuen said preparations for the 2017 election had given rise to "hugely divergent views" in Hong Kong.

He said it was difficult to "strike the right balance" between giving the former British colony's voters a "genuine choice" and avoiding a scenario where Beijing "might decline to appoint the chief executive-elect for good reasons".

"Contrary to some suggestions expressed in the community, there remains plenty of room for consultation and discussion," Yuen said.

"There will be at least two or perhaps three candidates. There will not be the situation of just one candidate, because that's not allowed," he said.

"It will be a very competitive situation."

But in an apparent reference to universal suffrage and the new rules on candidate selection, he added: "The right to vote and the right to be voted can be subject to reasonable restraint.

"So the question is... how can we deal with the restrictions such as to make them reasonable?"

Yuen concluded by saying constitutional development presented the city with daunting challenges.

"But we believe Hong Kong people will have the wisdom and courage to tackle them and take the correct stride forward."

© 2014 AFP

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