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The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government will not request the Mainland authorities to return the 12 absconded suspects to Hong Kong before completion of the legal proceedings on the Mainland. Secretary for Security John Lee made the statement when answering lawmakers’ questions in the Legislative Council today. He said that every individual should take responsibility for their own actions. “The Hong Kong SAR Government definitely will not do so, as this would encourage more people to abscond by jumping bail and condone the criminals' intentional evasion of legal liabilities. It is entirely improper to let such a wrong act of abscondence sustain.” Mr Lee added that the Hong Kong SAR Government respected the Mainland authorities' handling of the case. “The Hong Kong SAR Government will not interfere with, and will respect, the Mainland law enforcement authorities' handling of the case in accordance with the local laws, regulations and judicial systems, in the same way as we expect our legal and judicial systems to be respected.” He also noted that after receiving requests for assistance from the absconded suspects' families, the Immigration Department (ImmD) and the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office in Guangdong (GDETO) have followed up the incidents and provided assistance. Mr Lee pointed out they have informed the families of the Mainland's laws and regulations as well as expedited the issue of the required Certificates of Registered Particulars as proof of their relationship at the request of individual family members. As at October 19, the family members have made a total of 29 different written requests, including those for medication and bail. The ImmD relayed the requests to the Mainland authorities via the GDETO according to the mechanism. The GDETO has also enquired about the suspects' health from the relevant Mainland authorities and has been given to understand that a suitable medical diagnosis would be provided as necessary. Mr Lee said the Mainland authorities have stated that the legal rights of the arrestees will be lawfully protected. On the issue of lawyers, the security chief noted that the 12 absconded suspects have respectively appointed two lawyers. He said the Hong Kong SAR Government has relayed to the Mainland authorities in accordance with the mechanism the requests of some family members for information on the appointed lawyers. The Mainland authorities expressed that they would act in accordance with the law, Mr Lee added.
On media reports that Germany has allegedly granted refugee status to a Hong Kong suspect who reportedly committed serious crimes and jumped bail, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government today expressed strong opposition to Germany’s move, if confirmed to be true. In response to press enquiries on the matter, the Hong Kong SAR Government said Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung met German Consul General in Hong Kong Dieter Lamle this afternoon at the Central Government Offices. The Hong Kong SAR Government asked for this meeting which was also attended by Secretary for Security John Lee. Mr Cheung said at the meeting that the Hong Kong SAR Government strongly objects to other jurisdictions harbouring criminals under different pretexts, which would only send a plainly wrong message to criminals that they need not face any criminal liability. He stressed that every individual should be responsible for his or her illegal actions. He reiterated that the Basic Law ensures Hong Kong people enjoy extensive rights and freedoms. The freedoms of speech, media, publication, association, assembly, procession and demonstration are fully protected under the Basic Law and the Hong Kong Bill of Rights. The city’s rule of law and independent judicial system are the core values of its society, and have long been held in high regard by the international community. According to Basic Law Article 85, the Hong Kong SAR courts shall exercise judicial power independently, free from any interference. Articles 10 and 11 of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights also provide sufficient protection to any person with any criminal charge laid against him, or whose rights and obligations are in a suit at law. Prosecutions are made based on the acts but not political beliefs or background of the persons involved. There is no question of political persecution in Hong Kong. Mr Cheung also stressed that anyone accused of breaching the law will face an open and fair trial. The Hong Kong courts will, as always, with their sound rule of law and human rights protection, handle all cases in an independent, fair and just manner. He remarked that given Germany’s long-standing diplomatic presence in Hong Kong, the German authorities are expected to duly take into account the above factors in determining the truth and veracity of any claims for refugee status. The Hong Kong SAR Government would be dismayed if a basic assessment of facts had not been made. Mr Cheung reiterated that foreign governments should stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs, which are internal matters of the People’s Republic of China. He asked the German Consul General in Hong Kong to convey the Hong Kong SAR Government’s position to the relevant German authorities.
An inter-departmental vegetation fire and mountain rescue exercise was held at the MacLehose Trail at Eagle's Nest (Tsim Shan), Kowloon today. The Fire Services Department (FSD), Police, Government Flying Service, Agriculture, Fisheries & Conservation Department, Auxiliary Medical Service, Civil Aid Service, Home Affairs Department, Social Welfare Department and the Hospital Authority participated in the exercise. About 80 Fire Services members took part in the on-site exercise, whilst the other departments and organisations joined the table-top exercise.  The exercise was aimed at enhancing co-ordination and logistical support capabilities among departments and service organisations during large-scale hillfire and mountain rescue operations. It also helped check the effectiveness and co-operation of the emergency formations.               With the approach of the Chung Yeung Festival, coupled with the dry weather, the FSD urged the public not to leave any naked flames burning during grave sweeping or hiking activities. They are also reminded to take shelter in a safe place if they encounter a vegetation fire.
Hong Kong residents born in 1970, 1971 or 1972 should apply for a new smart identity card at a Smart Identity Card Replacement Centre from November 2 to April 30 next year, the Immigration Department announced today. Bookings can be made online, on the department’s mobile application or by calling the 24-hour hotline at 2121 1234. The card replacement centres are open Monday to Saturday, 8am to 10pm, except public holidays. Applicants need to bring their existing smart identity cards when they go to the centres. They may take up to two disabled people and two family members or friends aged 65 or above to replace their identity cards together. For citizens born in 1962 to 1963, their identity card replacement period will end on January 30, 2021. The department said those who have not applied should do so as early as possible to avoid a last-minute rush. Residents who are absent from Hong Kong during their call-up period can apply within 30 days of their return to the city. Click here or call 2824 6111 for details.
The Government will gazette the latest specifications today to impose conditions on travellers who visited France and Russia within 14 days before arriving in Hong Kong to reduce the health risk they may bring to the city. The Food & Health Bureau said the global epidemic situation is becoming increasingly severe, noting that the daily number of new cases increased from 70,000 to 100,000 between late March and mid-May, to 160,000 to 180,000 in late June. The figures rose to 220,000 to 290,000 in late July, and further surged to a new height of 240,000 to 320,000 in mid-September. It has remained at such a high level since then. In view of the severe global pandemic situation, Hong Kong cannot afford to drop its guard on entry prevention and control measures, the bureau added. The specifications under the Prevention & Control of Disease (Regulation of Cross-boundary Conveyances & Travellers) Regulation (Cap 599H) were made in view of the developments of the COVID-19 epidemic situation worldwide and in Hong Kong. The Government had earlier introduced Cap 599H to impose testing and quarantine conditions on travellers coming to Hong Kong from very high-risk places. The Secretary for Food & Health has previously published in the gazette specifications on the relevant measures applicable to Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the US. New specifications will be gazetted to maintain the conditions imposed and to include France and Russia as specified places with effect from October 26. Travellers who have stayed in the specified places 14 days before arriving in Hong Kong must provide documents showing they tested negative for COVID-19 and their reservation for a hotel in Hong Kong. Any traveller coming to Hong Kong who fails to comply with the requirement to provide information is liable to a fine of $10,000 and imprisonment for six months.
(To watch the full media session with sign language interpretation, click here.) Secretary for Security John Lee today said the prevalence of deception in Hong Kong will likely continue. Mr Lee made the remarks during the review of crime figures at a media session, noting that many deception cases involve overseas culprits. “In regard to deception cases, the international trend, I think, indicates that the prevalence of this offence is likely to continue. And the simple reasons are, first of all, that criminals of such deception cases have a low risk of being caught because a lot of these deception cases are perpetrated through the Internet or telephone, when in actuality the culprits are overseas. “But the possibility of making a return, ie deceiving for money, is high.” Mr Lee explained that exposure to online scammers has increased because more people are staying home to avoid violent acts and the risk of catching COVID-19. “Since June last year, there have been quite a large number of social disorder cases, unlawful and violent acts which, in some way, make people tend not to go out. And the second reason is COVID-19, because people tend to stay home. “So these expose them to the opportunities of being contacted by those who want to deceive. “And thirdly, there is a tendency for people to engage in communications through the Internet and social media, because that has been the habit of life. And because of this interaction, the opportunities of being trapped by all these scammers have become higher.” Reviewing the crime situation in the first eight months this year, overall crime in Hong Kong was up 25% compared with the same period last year, with 42,526 cases recorded. In addition to deception offences, rises were recorded in the categories of violent crime, robberies, burglary and blackmail.
(To watch the full media session with sign language interpretation, click here.) The Government will do anything possible within the law to offer assistance regarding Taiwan homicide case suspect Chan Tong-kai, but it has to wait for Taiwan to take the next step after Chan indicated his wish to surrender. Secretary for Security John Lee made the remarks today in response to media enquiries about the case, stressing that the Government’s position is clear. “We will do anything that is possible within the law to offer assistance. But one must appreciate that Chan is a free man. He has served his sentence. He has made his first step by indicating his willingness to surrender to Taiwan.” While Mr Lee shared his concern over the manner in which Taiwan is handling Chan’s case, he also expressed hope that the establishment of a police liaison channel will help move the case forward. “One would assume that any authority which has issued a warrant of arrest will make all efforts to arrest the man. And when Chan indicates that he’s willing to go to Taiwan, it shocks, I think, anybody with common sense that he is refused, or his intended trip to Taiwan is in any way hindered. “The police liaison channel is open but, as I have explained, the Government has no authority to require Chan to do things which are beyond his wish. “So, we have to wait for the Taiwan side to make the second step, so that we can actively examine how we can help in the whole matter.”
Police today refuted claims they conspired to kidnap 12 Hong Kong residents detained by Mainland authorities for crossing the boundary illegally. Commissioner of Police Tang Ping-keung told reporters this afternoon that the kidnapping accusation made by Joshua Wong was a malicious one. “I have to make it very clear that this is solely the Mainland authorities' operation. It has nothing to do with Hong Kong Police. “You talk about the malicious accusation by Joshua Wong, I think he is accusing us of conspiring to kidnap those 12 criminals back to Mainland China. “It is very obvious that no one kidnapped them. They did their own desertion or absconsion away from the criminal proceedings in Hong Kong.” On whether Police deployed the Government Flying Service to monitor the 12 suspects leaving Hong Kong, Mr Tang said to ensure the integrity of Police operations they could not disclose operational details, as per the usual practice. Regarding the progress of homicide case suspect Chan Tong-kai’s surrender, he said the Security Bureau is dealing with the issue, but that the force is always ready to offer assistance.
The Home Affairs Bureau today expressed discontent and regret over Kowloon City District Council (KCDC) members' refusal to allow the Commissioner of Police to attend their meeting. Fourteen council members issued a letter to the chairman on October 12, requesting he remove the commissioner's visit from the agenda, as well as making false accusations against Police and other government representatives attending council meetings, the bureau said. It considered such a refusal as the council's attempt to close the door on exchanging views, communicating and co-operating with government departments, which would not help foster district administration work. The bureau pointed out that the Government has all along attached great importance to district administration. In accordance with established arrangements, the relevant heads of departments will meet with all 18 District Councils (DCs) at least once during the DC term to listen to the views of DC members in person. The Commissioner of Police's proposed attendance at tomorrow's KCDC meeting is to comply with such arrangement. The bureau appeals to DC members again to focus on district livelihood issues and to express their views to the Government on district affairs in a rational, peaceful and pragmatic manner under the principle of mutual respect.
The Judiciary today announced additional transparency measures to enhance public understanding about the reasoning of court decisions as well as complaints against judicial conduct. Starting from this month, summaries of selected decisions in the District Court and Magistrates’ Courts which may attract great public attention will be prepared and uploaded to the Judiciary website as far as practicable.        Currently, in accordance with the principle of open justice, all court hearings, save for some very limited exceptions such as those involving children, are open to the public. Judgments and reasons for verdicts and sentencing for the District Court and above are available on the Judiciary website.     Separately, starting from July, where there have been a large number of identical or similar complaints on judicial conduct in relation to any case, the gist of the complaints, investigation outcome and underlying considerations will be posted online. An investigation into the first batch of complaints has been completed and relevant information has been posted on the webpage. The Judiciary said in line with the cardinal principle of judicial independence, it cannot and will not handle complaints against judicial or statutory decisions, which should be dealt with via appeal, review or related judicial proceedings.