19. Public Order Events

19.1   Article 27 of the Basic Law guarantees Hong Kong residents “freedom of speech, of the press and of publication; freedom of association, of assembly, of procession and of demonstration…”. Articles 16, 17 and 18 of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights give the same protections to other persons who are in Hong Kong.

19.2   Offences alleged to have been committed in conjunction with the exercise of these constitutionally guaranteed freedoms may give rise to special considerations. On the one hand, there is a positive duty on the authorities to take reasonable and appropriate measures to enable lawful assemblies to take place peacefully; on the other hand, there is a need to protect persons and property by maintaining public order according to law.

19.3   Criminal prosecution should only be pursued when the relevant conduct exceeds sensible proportions or the bounds of reasonableness (Yeung May-wan v HKSAR (2005) 8 HKCFAR 137). Cases in relation to public order events require the striking of a balance between the interest of society in maintaining public order and the right of a person lawfully and peacefully to exercise his or her rights.