Human rights groups voiced grave misgivings on Tuesday at Hong Kong’s decision to issue telescoping metal batons to police officers “for the purpose of executing constabulary duties whilst off-duty.”
Icarus Wong of police watchdog group Civil Rights Observer cautioned:
Wong noted the Hong Kong public no longer trusts police to show restraint and carefully monitor the activities of officers, and implied the decision to arm off-duty officers could give the government a means of deploying untraceable and unaccountable muscle.
Hong Kong’s on-duty police officers have been criticized for swinging their batons with too much vigor, sometimes at people who were not even involved in protest actions.
The Atlantic argued on September 1 that Hong Kong’s government and police have lost the trust of the public in a way they crucially avoided during the 2014 democracy movement, although the early warning signs were there.