Civil Rights Observer, a human rights group released a report that said that Hong Kong protesters were subject to persistent torture by the police that included sexual assault. The police also acknowledged ill-treating the press.

The report named "Policing Protests in Hong Kong: Torture and Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment" was released on Tuesday. The human rights group interviewed about 45 people who were arrested or bound by police force at protest sites, from July to November 2019. All of them suffered "unreasonable treatment".

In addition to this, the report cites seven case studies of how police violated human rights and domestic laws. This comes after the police arrested 200 people on Sunday's protests in Hong Kong amid coronavirus crisis.

Torture including sexual assault

Hong Kong protest
Demonstrators holding placards during the rally Reuters

There are two cases considered 'serious,' and if proved true, would amount to a "case of torture." The police' "unreasonable" treatments included severe assault, excessive force, sexual harassment or sexual assault, verbal humiliation, using threat of force such as, to unlock one's phone or to take a statement, body search that involved in removal of clothes or underwear with no reason given, delayed medical access and legal assistance.

Police torture
Illustration from the report Civil Rights Observer

The group highlights seven cases where a man also claimed that officers repeatedly slammed his head on the door frame of the police van. Another case where a man who didn't take part in the protest was pinned down to the ground, while one officer elbowed him in the throat, he struggled for breath for 30 seconds, says the report.

Will be reported to UN

This report is set to be sent to the United Nations and other international organizations. Testimonies showed that police actions amounted to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment (CIDTP) in some cases.

Majorly these happened when victims were under police control. Under the international human rights law CIDTP is prohibited. But the Crimes (Torture) Ordinance of the place has an excuse for it. However, Human Rights Committee and Committee against torture says that there may be loopholes in the law.

"We urge the Hong Kong government to establish a fully independent police complaints mechanism, to initiate investigations on acts of torture or ill-treatment, to duly prosecute the perpetrators with appropriate punishment and to provide full redress to the victims," said Icarus Wong and Andrew Shum from Civil Rights Observer.

Police torture
Case illustration from the report Civil Rights Observer

Police attacked the press

Further, police "attacked" the press in a "terrorist-like" manner during the dispersal of the Sunday's protest said pro-democracy legislator Roy Kwong. To which Hong Kong's police chief Chris Tang acknowledged it and said that such a treatment was "undesirable" and officers should have shown more professionalism, according to a report. On Monday, almost eight associations of local journalists issued a joint statement opposing the acts of the police and the suppression of press freedom.