Regularly updated overview of trials of Hong Kong pro-democracy leaders and activists
last updated on 12 September 2019
This page gathers information about various trials I’ve been tracking elsewhere, providing a simple, regularly updated overview. For more in-depth information, see here for a wide-ranging report from May 2018 that provides detail and context to much of what’s presented here (but is not updated), here for a focus on legal cases against pro-democracy Legislative Council members, here for a focus on the major trials of leaders and activists from January to May, and here for a focus on legal cases against pro-democracy leaders.
Upcoming legal cases against pro-democracy leaders and activists
As of 11 September 2019, almost all of the legal cases brought against pro-democracy leaders and activists after the Umbrella Movement have concluded, except for appeals. There are only cases that have not yet gone to trial: 1) Legco members Lam Cheuk-ting and Andrew Wan, charged with obstructing Legco officers from carrying out their duties (Wan is also charged wtih common assault). They plead not guilty on 10 December 2018. The case is in relation to a Legco meeting on 13 June 2018 on the co-location arrangement at the express rail terminus. 2) Legco member Kenneth Leung, whom former Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying sued for defamation in regard to an alleged assertion Kenneth Leung made in Legco that Leung Chun-ying was being investigated abroad on suspicion of non-compliance with tax regulations.
Legal cases against Hong Kong pro-democracy leaders
Since the Umbrella Movement ended in December 2014, the Hong Kong government has brought 48 legal cases against 33 pro-democracy leaders. As of 11 September 2019, 45 cases involving 65 counts have concluded (excepting appeals), resulting in 46 convictions (2 of which were later overturned), six disqualifications from Legco, 13 acquittals, and one prosecution thrown out by the judge. Three trials have not yet begun. The government has appealed five judgments, four of them successfully. Defendants have appealed 13 judgments, nine at least partially successfully. Thirteen appeals are outstanding, 11 by defendants, two by the government. There have been 18 prison sentences. Seven have been served. Six prison sentences were entirely overturned upon appeal while three were overturned but replaced by a lesser sentence equivalent to time already served.
Of the 48 cases against pro-democracy leaders, 23 have been brought against 16 Legislative Council members. Six have been disqualified from Legco. There have been 15 prosecutions on criminal charges resulting in nine convictions, three acquittals, and one case thrown out by the judge. Two Legco members are currently awaiting trial. Of the nine convictions, six have resulted in prison sentences, of which three were overturned upon appeal. There has been one civil lawsuit and one disqualification from running for election for village leader.
Pro-democracy leaders sentenced to prison
As of 11 June 2019, there are five pro-democracy leaders currently in prison, all in relation to the Umbrella Movement: Chan Kin-man (16 months); Benny Tai (16 months); Raphael Wong (eight months); Shiu Ka-chun (eight months); and Joshua Wong (two months).
By my rough estimate, there have now been about 162 convictions of pro-democracy demonstrators since the Umbrella Movement ended in December 2014 , out of about 298 prosecutions. This estimate is based on the following figures. The last time the Hong Kong government provided statistics on prosecutions related to what it calls “the illegal Occupy movement” was the start of 2016. It said it had prosecuted 220 people and convicted 90. Since then, there have been convictions in the cases of the Civic Square 3, the Umbrella Movement 9, the Mong Kok 15, the Mong Kok 20, all related to the Umbrella Movement. The government had a 100% conviction rate in those cases. That takes the numbers up to 137 convictions out of 267 prosecutions. There have also been protest-related convictions unrelated to the Umbrella Movement: the NENT 13, the Liaison Office 9 (eight of whom were convicted), the Debate 2, and the HKU 2. In addition to the one person who was acquitted in the Liaison Office 9 trial, there have been five other acquittals (of Joshua Wong for inciting unlawful assembly and of four for obstructing police in front of the Liaison Office). That brings the numbers to 162 convictions out of 298 prosecutions. I suspect there are some I have left out, but I am confident that this is a fairly accurate rough estimate. This excludes a number of events that some may consider protests, in particular actions taken within Legco by pro-democracy Legco members for which they have been prosecuted.