First arrests made under security law
Suspects were arrested for incitement to commit secession during unlawful rally
Hong Kong police arrested 10 people on Wednesday on suspicion of violating the newly promulgated national security law, as officials said that a dedicated police unit has been set up to handle such crimes.
The suspects were accused of incitement to commit secession during an unlawful rally on Hong Kong Island that became violent and led to vandalism. Most of the suspects displayed or carried material advocating Hong Kong independence.
According to the law, which took effect at 11 pm on Tuesday, anyone who incites others to commit secession is guilty of violating the act. The maximum penalty is 10 years’ imprisonment.
The Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region criminalizes four categories of offenses —secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign or external forces to endanger national security.
The maximum penalty for each category is life imprisonment, while some minor offenses are liable of imprisonment of less than three years.
On Wednesday afternoon, thousands of people gathered in Causeway Bay and Wan Chai. The illegal assembly lasted until nightfall, with some radicals assaulting police officers, smashing shops, committing arson, and vandalizing road facilities along the route they followed. More than 370 people were arrested.
Some protesters also chanted slogans and displayed flags or banners that publicly advocated secession and subversion. For the first time, police on the scene raised a purple flag as a warning against such behavior.
In a statement, the SAR government condemned the unlawful acts and expressed support for the police to strictly enforce the national security law and other laws of the city.
Also on Wednesday, Secretary for
The police force has established a designated unit earlier in the day to enforce the national security law. The unit shares the major responsibility for the law’s enforcement, and the city’s other five discipline forces will facilitate its work.’’ John Lee Ka-chiu, secretary for security
Security John Lee Ka-chiu revealed at a news conference that the police force has established a designated unit earlier in the day to enforce the national security law.
Lee said the unit shares the major responsibility for the law’s enforcement, and the city’s other five discipline forces will facilitate its work. He added that to ensure the effective implementation of the law, the government will prepare sufficient manpower, resources, and trainings to assist the unit.
The unit will be headed by a deputy commissioner of the force, and the candidate hasn’t been decided yet, Lee said.
According to the law, the major function of the unit is to investigate national security cases and collect related intelligence. It can also recruit experts outside Hong Kong to assist in enforcing national security work.
The law has granted certain powers to the police when enforcing the law. In addition to restricting suspects to leave the city and freezing properties used or intended to be used for criminal purposes, local officers can also intercept suspects’ communications and conduct covert surveillance with the approval of the Hong Kong chief executive.