LAWASIA has released a statement saying it views the recent events in Hong Kong with grave concern.
LAWASIA is a regional association of lawyers, judges, jurists and legal organisations, which advocates for the interests and concerns of the Asia Pacific legal profession. The New Zealand Law Society is a member.
The statement says the Hong Kong authorities have a duty to facilitate peaceful public assemblies, demonstrations and protests, and a duty to ensure the safety of peaceful protestors and civilians, as well as to prevent damage to property.
"In doing so, there have been wide reports or allegations of excessive and gratuitous use of force being employed by the authorities in some instances against protestors, journalists and other civilians.
"LAWASIA urges all parties to exercise extreme restraint, to respect the rule of law and to cease the cycle of violence. The biggest collateral victims of such violence if it were to continue unabated would be the peaceful people of Hong Kong, the administration of justice and the rule of law in Hong Kong.
"LAWASIA urges all parties to conduct themselves responsibly and to act immediately to diffuse the situation, de-escalate tensions, avoid further violence, and promote confidence in and respect for the law through peaceful means. In the interests of the administration of justice and the rule of law, there should be a resolution of the contending allegations of violence by both sides of the divide."
With a view to restoring normalcy and peace, and to promoting confidence in the rule of law in Hong Kong, LAWASIA says it urges the government of Hong Kong to consider the efficacy of immediately establishing an independent inquiry, "to inquire into the events, incidences and allegations of violence; identify and address causes, issues and concerns pertaining and giving rise to the current situation and events; reconcile differences, disputes and conflicts; and make appropriate recommendations to the government."
LAWASIA says continued violence by any party would serve to undermine the rule of law, hijack the voices of peaceful protestors and disenfranchise the rights of the people of Hong Kong.
"Much could be lost through unabated conflict and violence; much would be gained with good sense, good faith, the ascertainment of truth and re-conciliation, and the maintenance of the primacy of the rule of law," it says.