LONDON • Senior British officers in the Hong Kong police force could face legal action in Britain on torture charges after activists yesterday said they planned to proceed with a private prosecution.
The expatriate officers are accused of directly engaging in torture against pro-democracy demonstrators, or directing others within the force to carry out the crimes.
Torture has allegedly been carried out in police stations and on the streets, with a specific incident cited at Hong Kong’s Citic Tower during protests in June last year.
The prosecution is being brought by a team of prominent activists and lawyers, who are trying to raise £200,000 (S$359,000) to employ a full-time legal team.
They say the prosecution can be carried out in London as torture is an offence which has universal jurisdiction under British law.
“The people of Hong Kong have suffered sustained brutality at the hands of the Hong Kong Police Force,” said Mr Luke de Pulford, a member of the human rights group, Hong Kong Watch.
“Despite clear evidence of excessive force, no officer has been disciplined. Many of those officers are British, and as such, they are subject to British law.”
None of the officers has been named.
The group bringing the prosecution claims three of the six Hong Kong regional commander police posts are filled by British nationals.
“This is a very important initiative because this is one of the very few ways we can hold the Hong Kong police accountable,” said democracy activist Nathan Law, who recently fled to London from Hong Kong.
Under British law, the activists will have to get permission from the Attorney-General, the chief legal adviser to the British government, to proceed.
The group says it has the backing of several members of the British Parliament, which could place a further strain on relations between London and Beijing.