Court rejects bid for injunction against police entry into CUHK

November 14, 2019 10:09
Potesters set a fire as they occupy the Chinese University campus in Shatin on Wednesday. Photo: Reuters

A High Court judge rejected an application for an interim injunction to prohibit police from entering the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) without a warrant and using crowd control measures on the campus without the school's approval, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

In rejecting the application filed by Jacky So Tsun-fung, president of the CUHK student union, Judge Wilson Chan Ka-shun on Wednesday said the police have the power to stop or disperse any gathering which they reasonably believe could lead to a breach of the peace.

Considering the violent incidents that occurred on a bridge leading to the campus and other parts of the university, the judge said he agreed with the police force's contention that "there is no reason for the court to exercise its discretion to restrict the force’s exercise of force in a blanket manner”.

So applied for the injunction after fierce clashes on the campus on Tuesday night, with officers firing rubber bullets and tear gas in response to petrol bombs hurled by students.

In his application, So cited Article 29 of the Basic Law, which provides that "the homes and other premises of Hong Kong residents shall be inviolable. Arbitrary or unlawful search of, or intrusion into, a resident's home or other premises shall be prohibited".

He also said Article 14 of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance stipulates that “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honor and reputation”.

So said the CUHK owns and manages the campus in Shatin, and to many students the university is their second home.

The police entered the premises without a warrant or legal basis at least four times on Oct. 6 and on Nov. 7, 11 and 12, according to the application.

Senior counsel Audrey Eu Yuet-mee, who represented So, argued that even if there were situations interfering with public order on the university campus, they were purely the school’s business.

Eu, a former legislator and former leader of the pro-democracy Civic Party, also said police entered the campus on Tuesday night without providing any suspect’s name and identity and therefore no reasonable grounds for the operation.

This made her wonder if they had intentionally tried to “invade” CUHK and private places on the campus, Eu said, adding that the clashes have resulted in injuries to 119 people so far.

She expressed worry that should the court refuse to issue an injunction to ban police entry, it would send a message that law enforcers could just enter a private place or institution even without justification.

The petitioner was not asking the court to condone violence but hoped the court could help ensure that the police enforce the law in accordance with the rule of law, she said.

The Department of Justice (DoJ), representing the police force, told the court that it disagreed with the applicant’s defense that there was no evidence showing crime had taken place on the CUHK campus.

The No. 2 Bridge, from which protesters were throwing miscellaneous objects and petrol bombs, is a public place, the DoJ said.

Protesters hurled 47 petrol bombs inside the campus on Monday and at least 245 more the following day, the department added.

After the judge rejected the application, So told media he was disappointed with the decision, adding that he would discuss with his lawyers whether to lodge an appeal or file for a judicial review.

Recalling the events that led the clashes at CUHK, So said the students got angry because police had publicly said they would leave the campus on Tuesday night, only to see them send in more officers and deploy a water cannon vehicle and an armored vehicle.

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