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A Hong Kong resident died and two others were injured in a traffic accident in Shaoguan, Guangdong yesterday afternoon. Officers of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Government were deployed to render assistance. The Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office in Guangdong today said it had deployed officers to Shaoguan to assist residents and their families upon learning of the incident yesterday evening. The three Hong Kong residents were passengers on board a Mainland-licensed private car when the accident happened, the office noted. The office and the Immigration Department will continue to liaise with the residents concerned, and their families, to render all practicable assistance. Hong Kong residents who need assistance when travelling outside of Hong Kong may call the department’s Assistance to Hong Kong Residents Unit 24-hour hotline on (852) 1868. They can also call the 1868 hotline using network data via the department’s mobile app, send a message to the 1868 WhatsApp assistance hotline or submit an Online Assistance Request Form.
The Correctional Services Department arranged for people in custody to attend Christmas activities during the festive period. Catholic Bishop of Hong Kong Stephen Chow presided at Christmas Mass today at Stanley Prison to share his faith and Christmas blessings with participating inmates. He also visited the prison hospital to convey his sympathy and support to the patients. Earlier on December 21, Archbishop of Hong Kong Andrew Chan presided at a Christmas service in Pak Sha Wan Correctional Institution to preach and share religious messages with inmates and show his love and care to them. Through the correctional services chaplain, voluntary chaplains and visitors from religious organisations, a wide range of spiritual and social services are offered to those in custody who wish to participate regardless of their religious affiliation, the department said. The services include visits, teaching, counselling, religious worship and recreational activities, it added.
The Judiciary announced today that it will launch a trial run of live broadcasting of court proceedings through video webcasting on two appellate proceedings in the Court of Final Appeal (CFA) next month. Emphasising that open justice is key to maintaining public confidence in the judicial system and upholding the rule of law, the Judiciary said it is actively exploring the initiative of live broadcasting of selected judicial proceedings outside court premises. Two CFA cases to be heard on January 10 and 16 next year have been identified for the trial run. Members of the public can view the live webcast of the two cases on the CFA website via desktop computers or mobile devices installed with common browsers. Core written materials will be available on the CFA website before the hearings, while relevant information of the live webcast will be provided nearer the time of the court proceedings on the CFA and the Judiciary’s websites. After the live webcast, the videos of the court proceedings will be uploaded to and kept on the CFA website for a short duration for easy access. The two trial broadcasts of CFA hearings will be available for viewing for two and three calendar days respectively after the hearing date. The Judiciary said that members of the public, including the media, must not record the live webcast or use the live broadcast footage for any purpose. Measures such as digital rights management commonly found on streaming platforms will be put in place to deter unauthorised recording, screen capturing and illegal distribution of the live broadcast footage. Any person who records, edits or re-broadcasts the live broadcast footage without the court’s prior permission is liable for contempt of court or copyright infringement. Warnings will be shown on the CFA website and on-screen runner during the live webcast. The Judiciary decided to proceed with the live broadcasting of the two appeal hearings after having considered a host of factors to ensure the administration of justice will not be unduly compromised, including the need to take account of parties' views and prevent possible misuse of broadcast materials. The primary objective of the trial run is to test the technical feasibility of the arrangements, including the information technology and audio-visual setup as well as the logistical and operational details before, during and after the hearings. Taking into account the technical feasibility assessment, court users' feedback, and operational experience from the trial run, the Judiciary will conduct a review and consider the way forward for live broadcasting of court proceedings outside court premises in the longer term.
The Immigration Department estimates that 9.03 million passengers will pass through land, sea and air control points during the Christmas and New Year holiday period. About 83.5% of these travellers will pass through land boundary control points (BCPs). The busiest day for outbound traffic is expected to be December 23, when about 549,000 passengers will leave Hong Kong, while inbound traffic is predicted to peak on December 26 when 626,000 passengers arrive in the city. Passenger traffic at the Lo Wu, Lok Ma Chau Spur Line and Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge control points will also be heavy, with daily averages of 217,000, 184,000 and 118,000 forecast. To cope with the anticipated heavy traffic, the department has minimised leave for frontline officers to allow flexible deployment and operation of extra clearance counters and kiosks. Additional security guards will also be deployed to provide crowd management support. Furthermore, the department will set up a joint command centre at Lo Wu Control Point together with Police, Customs and the Mass Transit Railway Corporation, and will also establish close communication with Mainland frontier inspection authorities to ensure smooth passenger traffic flows. Travellers are advised to plan their trips in advance and avoid making journeys during busy times. They may check the expected busy times at BCPs on the department’s website and monitor estimated waiting times at all land BCPs via its mobile app.
Up to 1,000 tourists per day will be allowed to visit all parts of Sha Tau Kok, except Chung Ying Street, after applying online for a Closed Area Permit (CAP) as the boundary town is set to further open up in 2024. The second phase opening-up of Sha Tau Kok will begin on January 1 and the quota for next month is now open for applications by Hong Kong residents or visitors to Hong Kong. The daily tourist quota includes 700 tour group visitors and 300 individual tourists, who may visit Sha Tau Kok from 7am to 9pm on the date they have applied for. Travel agencies or tourists can log onto the Hong Kong Police Force Online Applications Platform to apply for a free electronic Tourism CAP on a first-come, first-served basis. The application process takes three working days. The quota for January is now open for application. Subsequently, applications will be open on the first day of each month for all the quotas in the following month. Tourists may also contact licensed travel agents directly to sign up for tours visiting Sha Tau Kok, and the agents will handle the application procedures. The second phase opening-up features the Chung Ying Street Garden located in front of the Chung Ying Street Checkpoint, where visitors will find a viewing deck and a replica of an old railway station in Hong Kong as well as a model actual-size locomotive. The Fish Lantern Square that displays scenes of the national intangible cultural heritage “Sha Tau Kok fish-lantern dance” is also a must-see. Other new attractions include the old Sha Tau Kok Fire Station, mural paintings at Shun Ping Street, Sha Tau Kok Pier, the Guangzhou-style arcade complex “San Lau Street”, the statutory monument Hip Tin Temple, and more. Individual visitors must take public transport to Sha Tau Kok as private vehicle access is not allowed. They may take bus route Nos. 78S (express) or 78K at MTR Sheung Shui or Fanling stations; minibus route No. 55K at MTR Sheung Shui Station and alight at the terminal; or bus route No. 277A at MTR Lam Tin Station.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government today emphasised that all cases, including that of Lai Chee-ying, concerning the National Security Law are handled strictly on the basis of evidence and in accordance with the law. In a statement, the Hong Kong SAR Government pointed out that as the legal proceedings involving Lai Chee-ying are still ongoing, it is inappropriate for any person to comment on the details of the case. It stressed that all defendants will receive a fair trial strictly in accordance with laws applicable to Hong Kong and as protected by the Basic Law and the Hong Kong Bill of Rights. The Hong Kong SAR Government pointed out that any attempt by any country, organisation, or individual to interfere with the judicial proceedings in the Hong Kong SAR by means of political power or media or any other means, thereby resulting in a defendant not being able to have a fair trial that one should receive, is a reprehensible act undermining the rule of law of Hong Kong. Making a statement with the intent to interfere with or obstruct the course of justice, or engaging in conduct with the same intent, is very likely to constitute the offence of criminal contempt of court or the offence of perverting the course of justice. It noted that the Hong Kong SAR law enforcement agencies have been taking law enforcement actions based on evidence and strictly in accordance with the law in respect of the acts of the persons or organisations concerned, which have nothing to do with freedom of the press, or the background of any person or organisation. The suggestion that persons or organisations with certain backgrounds should be immune from legal sanctions for their illegal acts and activities is tantamount to granting such persons or organisations privileges to break the law and is totally contrary to the spirit of the rule of law. The Hong Kong SAR Government also said that cases will never be handled any differently owing to the profession, political beliefs or background of the persons involved. To suggest otherwise is utter nonsense without regard to objective facts with the intention to smear the judicial system of the Hong Kong SAR. Additionally, all cases concerning offences endangering national security will be handled in a fair and timely manner by the law enforcement, prosecution and judicial authorities of the Hong Kong SAR as required by the National Security Law. The time taken between the institution of prosecution and the completion of trial of each case depends on a multitude of factors. The prosecution and defence will adhere to any direction given by the court to ensure a timely trial, it added.
The amendment to the implementation rules of the National Security Law took effect upon gazettal today, putting beyond doubt that a notice issued by the Secretary for Security to freeze offence related property is valid while the proceedings to which it relates are pending and remains so until the conclusion of the proceedings, the Government announced. The Chief Executive, in conjunction with the Committee for Safeguarding National Security of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, has exercised the power given under Article 43 of the security law to make the amendments to the implementation rules. The Government noted that the amendments can more effectively avoid the national security risks arising from improper dealing with offence related property by the defendants of cases concerning offences endangering national security before conclusion of the proceedings. The amendments are technical in nature and the scope is extremely narrow as they only aim to make clear provisions in respect of the validity period of the freezing notice without changing the basis or principle for issuing such a notice, the Government said. If the related proceedings are not yet concluded, it is natural that the freezing notices should remain valid in the meantime. The amendments are therefore a matter of necessity to enable the Government to effectively prevent and suppress acts and activities endangering national security, it added. After the amendment, the property rights of the suspects and defendants of cases concerning national security offences remains protected in accordance with the law. People affected by the freezing notices may apply to the Court of First Instance for revocation of the notices or for the grant of a licence or variation of a licence for dealing with the property under the implementation rules. 
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government today said it strongly opposes and condemns certain countries and organisations for making irresponsible and unsubstantiated accusations against the lawful actions of Police's National Security Department to put people at large on a wanted list. In a statement, the Hong Kong SAR Government made it clear that endangering national security is a very serious offence and that no country will watch with folded arms acts and activities that endanger national security. It is a common practice of Police and other law enforcement agencies to release information of fugitive offenders who have allegedly committed serious offences and are wanted, and appeal to the public to assist in bringing fugitive offenders to justice. This is also squarely in line with the international practice. Extraterritoriality is a common feature of national security laws in many countries, including the UK and the US. The scope of application of the Hong Kong National Security Law (NSL) fully aligns with the principles of international law, international practice and common practice adopted in various countries and regions. Such practice is both necessary and legitimate, and is also in line with those of other countries and regions around the world. “Some countries have chosen to continue to deliberately ignore the extraterritorial effect of their laws in safeguarding national security, and wantonly made unreasonable criticisms and smeared the extraterritorial effect of the NSL and Police's law enforcement actions conducted in accordance with the law time and again. These are clearly typical manipulations tainted with double standards,” the statement noted. The Hong Kong SAR Government also stressed that it is outrageous that wanted people who have absconded overseas allegedly continue to engage in acts and activities endangering national security. The Hong Kong SAR Government will not condone such criminal acts, and will pursue the liability of the fugitives who have absconded overseas and endangered national security to the end by adopting all practicable measures to bring them to justice. No country or organisation should harbour criminals nor exonerate these people with different excuses. “Fugitives should not have any delusion that they could evade legal liabilities by absconding from Hong Kong. Fugitives will be pursued for life unless they turn themselves in.” The Hong Kong SAR Government added that it will continue to uphold the principle of “laws are observed so as to bring offenders to account” and apprehend the fugitive offenders in accordance with the law and will not allow them to evade justice.
The Buildings Department (BD) said today that following completion of an investigation, it has initiated four prosecutions over a steel segment collapse incident which caused the death of one worker at a Yau Tong construction site.  The incident occurred at a construction site on Tung Yuen Street on December 14, 2022. The subject steel segment was part of the temporary lateral support to facilitate the excavation works for the construction of a basement. After the basement structure was completed, the lateral support including the steel segment would then be dismantled. The department noted that its probe revealed that adequate precautionary measures were not provided by the relevant contractor, sub-contractors and individual persons directly concerned with the incident during dismantling of the steel segment, resulting in its collapse and the fatal incident. After consulting the Department of Justice, the BD has initiated four prosecutions against the contractor, sub-contractors and individuals directly concerned, which involves two companies and two individuals. The hearing is scheduled for January 16, 2024. The BD refused the concerned general building contractor Aggressive Construction Engineering's application for renewal of registration on October 18 and its name was removed from the Register of General Building Contractors on November 16. For the subject case, the Labour Department has initiated prosecution against the relevant duty holders. The trial is adjourned to January 11, 2024.
Arrest warrants have been issued against five people for alleged contravention of the National Security Law who have absconded overseas and they have been placed on the wanted list, Police’s National Security Department announced today. The five suspects comprise three men - Cheng Man-kit, Fok Ka-chi and Choi Ming-da, and two women - Hui Wing-ting and Joey Siu. Police said they have fled overseas and are alleged to have continued to commit the offences of incitement to secession, incitement to subversion and collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security. A reward of $1 million in respect of each wanted person is being offered to those who can provide information on the suspects or the related cases. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government said in a statement that it strongly supports the National Security Department in taking actions in accordance with the law by placing the five suspects on the wanted list, noting that safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests is the top priority of the “one country, two systems” principle as well as the responsibility of the Hong Kong SAR. These wanted suspects have repeatedly engaged in acts and activities that endanger national security publicly, including advocating to achieve Hong Kong independence through force and requesting foreign countries to impose so-called “sanctions” on officials of the central government and the Hong Kong SAR Government as well as judicial and law enforcement personnel, the statement said. The Hong Kong SAR Government must fight head-on to fulfil its constitutional duty in safeguarding national security and uphold the principle of “one country, two systems” and the spirit of the rule of law, it added. Expressing support to the Police’s National Security Department, the Security Bureau said the National Security Law has extraterritorial effect and Police have the responsibility to pursue those who have allegedly committed offences under the security law outside Hong Kong. As with the eight suspects who were put on the wanted list earlier, these five suspects have fled overseas and allegedly continued to commit offences under the National Security Law and their malicious acts have been seen through by all, the bureau said. No matter how countries and politicians harbouring these absconders unreasonably smear the action, Police will take all necessary measures steadfastly and fearlessly to prevent, suppress and impose punishment for acts and activities endangering national security in accordance with the law, upholding the principle that laws are observed so as to bring offenders to account with a view to safeguarding national security, the bureau added. Meanwhile, the National Security Department has arrested two men and two women on suspicion of "providing pecuniary assistance for the commission of secession by other persons" in violation of the National Security Law. Investigations revealed that between December 2020 and November 2023, the arrestees allegedly provided pecuniary assistance via an online crowdfunding platform to two wanted people who have engaged in secessionist activities and absconded overseas, and the amount ranged from $10,000 to $120,000. The four arrested people, aged between 29 and 68, are being detained for further enquiries. The force emphasised that it is an offence to incite, assist in, abet or provide pecuniary or other financial assistance or property to another person, by any means whatsoever including through online platforms, for committing offences endangering national security. Police will take strict enforcement action against such illegal acts and urge members of the public to abide by the law.