Unlawful assembly appeal issued

Police today said they had banned a public meeting planned on Hong Kong Island tomorrow and urged the public to refrain from participating in, advertising or publicising any unauthorised assemblies and prohibited gatherings.   The force also said any group gatherings taking place during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic can also increase the risk of spreading the virus.   A prohibition notice was issued to the organiser who filed a notification to hold the public meeting concerned after considering public safety, public order, people’s rights and freedom and the serious health risks brought by the ongoing pandemic to society.   Police had reasonable grounds to believe that holding the event would pose considerable threats to public health and lives.   The decision was upheld by the Appeal Board on Public Meetings & Processions after an appeal hearing.       Police reiterated that taking part in an unauthorised assembly risks committing offences under the Public Order Ordinance, and is liable to a maximum penalty of five years' imprisonment.   Participating in public gatherings may also breach the Prevention & Control of Disease (Prohibition on Group Gathering) Regulation regarding prohibited group gatherings.       Additionally, recent court rulings on two cases of unauthorised assembly in 2019 show that participating in an unauthorised assembly, whether involving violence or not, breaks the law. People involved in the case were eventually sentenced to different imprisonment terms.   In a case of knowingly participating in an unauthorised assembly on June 4 last year, the defendants were also sentenced to prison for four to 10 months.       Police will deploy adequate manpower in relevant locations tomorrow and take resolute action to enforce the law, including making arrests.
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