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Police today appealed to the public not to take part in, advertise or publicise any unauthorised assemblies. It noticed that some people have been spreading messages on the Internet inciting others to take part in unauthorised assemblies at Victoria Park and in Causeway Bay tomorrow. The Leisure & Cultural Services Department will close part of Victoria Park including the central lawn, football pitches and basketball courts from 11pm today. The force reiterated that participating in an unauthorised assembly risks committing offences under the Public Order Ordinance and shall be liable to a maximum penalty of five years' imprisonment. Participating in public gatherings may also breach the Prevention & Control of Disease (Prohibition on Gathering) Regulation regarding prohibited group gatherings. With the COVID-19 epidemic persisting, Police appeal to the public to refrain from participating in, advertising or publicising any unauthorised assemblies and prohibited gatherings, adding that group gatherings taking place during the ongoing pandemic also increase the risk of spreading the virus. Police will deploy adequate manpower in relevant locations tomorrow and take resolute action to enforce the law, including arrests. The public should not defy the law.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government expressed strong opposition to the unfounded remarks on Hong Kong contained in the US' 2021 Report on International Religious Freedom. The Hong Kong SAR Government made the statement today, noting that following the implementation of the National Security Law, chaos has stopped and order has been restored in Hong Kong. It explained that the National Security Law ensures the resolute, full and faithful implementation of the “one country, two systems” principle under which the people of Hong Kong administer Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy, and also clearly stipulates that human rights shall be respected and protected in safeguarding national security in the Hong Kong SAR. The rights and freedoms, including the freedoms of speech, of the press, of publications, of association, of assembly, of procession and of demonstration, enjoyed by residents of Hong Kong under the Basic Law and the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights as applicable to Hong Kong shall be protected in accordance with the law, the Hong Kong SAR Government pointed out. It added that the four categories of offences endangering national security stipulated under the National Security Law are clearly defined. Law-abiding people will not unwittingly violate the law. The Hong Kong SAR Government stressed that all law enforcement actions taken by law enforcement agencies under the National Security Law, or indeed any local legislation, are based on evidence, strictly according to the law and for the acts of the people or entities concerned, and have nothing to do with their political stance, background or occupation.
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Department of Justice (DoJ) organised a series of key legal conferences to bring together distinguished speakers from different sectors to share their objective insights. It is an opportune time for us to review the valuable opinions expressed at the legal conferences of the Basic Law Legal Conference - "Stability to Prosperity" and National Security Law Legal Conference - "Thrive with security". At the Basic Law legal conference, I was pleased to announce the official publication of the DoJ's sourcebook, Basic Law: Selected Drafting Materials & Significant Cases, with a view to fostering a proper understanding of the Basic Law by clearing up all the confusion. Stability to Prosperity Riding on the success of the legal forum "Back to Basics" in 2020, we held the second Basic Law legal conference - "Stability to Prosperity" on May 27. Chairperson of the Basic Law Committee of the Hong Kong SAR of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress Shen Chunyao in his keynote speech elucidated the essence of "one country, two systems", which is a well-considered and long-term policy of our country, whilst the Basic Law is a national law institutionalising "one country, two systems". He said that the Basic Law has been fully implemented in Hong Kong for 25 years. As to what will happen after another 25 years, Mr Shen quoted Deng Xiaoping as stating that 50 years was "just a figure of speech", and "for the first 50 years it cannot be changed, and after that, it would not be necessary to change". At the conference, Vice-chairperson of the Basic Law Committee of the Hong Kong SAR of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress Maria Tam and I had a meaningful dialogue on the fundamental concept of the "one country, two systems" and the Basic Law. I explained that the power of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC) in interpreting the Basic Law in accordance with Article 158 is consistent with the constitutional order of the Hong Kong SAR. It is also in line with the power exercised by the NPCSC under the Constitution in interpreting laws and overseeing the enforcement of the Constitution, signifying that the NPC is the highest power organ in our country. Maria offered an explanation on the difference between judicial interpretation and legislative interpretation, adding that the power of the NPCSC in interpreting the Basic Law does not affect judicial independence in Hong Kong whilst the power of final adjudication is still vested in the Court of Final Appeal of the Hong Kong SAR. The power of interpreting law is to ensure the consistency of laws across the country. Former Permanent Judge of the Court of Final Appeal Henry Litton expressed his views on the interpretation of the Basic Law in his thematic speech. He stressed that the Basic Law is a legal instrument adapted to the circumstances of Hong Kong under the principle of "one country, two systems". When a real issue arises as to the meaning of a provision in the Basic Law, the inquiry should focus on the purpose of that provision. Citing the "ding" rights ( HKCFA 38) case as an example, Mr Litton said that the Court of Final Appeal approached this issue by going into the historical background which gave rise to that provision. There was no citation of overseas cases and no invocation of European human rights jurisprudence. Various speakers at the panel discussions explained how the joint force of the enactment of the National Security Law and the improvement of the electoral system, through the NPC's decision and amendment to Annexes I and II to the Basic Law, safeguards our political security and has consolidated our basics by strengthening the premise of "one country". They also shared their views on the way which the Hong Kong SAR thrives as an international financial centre under the safeguards provided for by the Basic Law. One of the themes of the panel discussion is to explore why the common law is so important to Hong Kong's position as an international commercial and financial centre. The speakers pointed out that the common law, while following case precedents, is flexible and can adapt to evolving circumstances through judge-made law. In addition, judicial independence is constitutionally guaranteed under the Basic Law. They all agreed that the common law is the bedrock of Hong Kong's success. Non-Permanent Judge of the Court of Final Appeal Patrick Chan reaffirmed that judicial independence remains solid and robust by sharing his first-hand experience that he has never been interfered in his more than 30-year tenure serving as a judge, signifying that the independence of the judiciary is constitutionally protected by the Basic Law. Speakers from the business and financial sectors at the panel discussions also explored why Hong Kong has continued to attract investors from all over the world to do business in Hong Kong and make Hong Kong their home with which various provisions of the Basic Law act as constitutional safeguards to Hong Kong's free economy. Renowned businessman Allan Zeman in his conclusion took the view that the steadfast implementation of the Basic Law and the National Security Law has brought stability to our society, reinforcing confidence of the business sector in Hong Kong's continued success and prosper. Thrive with security The National Security Law is the major turning point in the Hong Kong SAR's transition from chaos to order, embarking on a new chapter towards governance and prosperity. On the second anniversary of the "5.28 Decision" (note), government officials from the Mainland and the Hong Kong SAR, legal experts and academics gathered together to review the progress achieved by the National Security Law and explored frontier issues, as well as looked ahead the further refinement of the legal framework for safeguarding national security in the Hong Kong SAR. Speakers shared the views that the Hong Kong SAR has a constitutional responsibility to complete the legislation of Article 23 of the Basic Law as soon as practicable in order to improve the legal system and enforcement mechanisms to safeguard the national security. The importance of maintaining a holistic view of national security was emphasised with political security on top of the priority. In addition to traditional security issues, the holistic view of national security also covers frontier key areas such as economic security, cultural security, cyber security, etc. They had an in-depth discussion on both domestic and overseas laws and practices to address the emerging security areas such as financial services sector and Internet industry. At the panel sessions, the speakers compared cases relating to the National Security Law and foreign cases on national security, and explored various topics such as the jury system and investigative powers in national security cases as well as ways to refine the legal framework on safeguarding national security. The Financial Secretary in his closing remarks reiterated that Hong Kong remains an international financial centre as the figures speak for themselves. Since the implementation of the National Security Law, the amount of funds raised through initial public offerings in Hong Kong exceeded $650 billion, an increase of over 30% compared with the same period before the implementation; assets under management by our asset and wealth management industry amounted to around $34.9 trillion as at end-2020, registering a growth of 20% over the amount before the law was implemented; the total deposits in the Hong Kong banking system reached $15.3 trillion recently, an increase of about 11% compared with that prior to the implementation of the law. He concluded that the National Security Law provides safeguards to the implementation of "one country, two systems", which is the cornerstone of the stability and prosperity of Hong Kong. To ensure the steadfast implementation of the "one country, two systems", it must be borne in mind that "one country" is like the roots of a tree. For a tree to grow tall and luxuriant, its roots must run deep and strong. The Hong Kong SAR can only capitalise on its unique position under "two systems", utilise strengths, and contribute to our country if an accurate understanding of the relationship between the Constitution and the Basic Law as well as a proper concept of national security is nurtured. You are most welcome to review the conferences to comprehend the proper concepts by visiting the Hong Kong Legal Hub website. Note: The Decision of the NPC on Establishing & Improving the Legal System & Enforcement Mechanisms for the Hong Kong SAR to Safeguard National Security. Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng wrote this article and posted it on her blog on June 2.
Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng spoke to about 100 principals and teachers on the proper concepts of the rule of law and the legal system in Hong Kong at a training course today. Ms Cheng was invited to deliver a talk to introduce the basic principles of statutory law and the common law in Hong Kong’s legal system, the spirit of the rule of law and the importance of judicial independence. She also briefly explained the rule of law in the international legal order, citing the principles of equality of the states and non-intervention as examples. She pointed out that the common law is the cornerstone supporting the capitalist system under “one country, two systems”, adding that it is essential to get a correct understanding of the Constitution in the hierarchical order of laws that are applied in Hong Kong. Ms Cheng noted the spirit of the rule of law, in particular equality before the law, is expressly set out in Article 25 of the Basic Law. She stressed that any advocacy on violation of law is contrary to the rule of law. She also said the laws of Hong Kong respect and protect the rights and freedoms as provided for under the Basic Law. However, such rights and freedoms are not absolute but may be subject to restrictions which are, amongst others, in the interests of public order and the protection of others’ rights and freedoms. The justice chief said the power of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee in interpreting the Basic Law in accordance with Article 158 is consistent with Hong Kong’s constitutional order. Such power does not undermine judicial independence as the power of final adjudication of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is still vested in the Court of Final Appeal, Ms Cheng added. Co-organised by Endeavour Education Centre and the Education Bureau, and supported by the Department of Justice, the Reinforcing the Rule of Law training course aims to provide teachers with the proper understanding of the rule of law, the relationship between the Constitution and the Basic Law, as well as the importance of national security.
The Government today announced that a pilot scheme will be launched tomorrow to provide immigration facilitation for visitors participating in short-term activities in 10 designated sectors. The 10 sectors are: medical & healthcare, higher education, arts & culture, sports, heritage, creative industries, innovation & technology, Hong Kong Laureate Forum, aviation and international/mega events. Under the scheme that will run for two years, host organisations authorised by relevant government bureaus or departments can issue invitation letters to non-local talent in their sectors. The invitees may come to Hong Kong to participate in designated short-term activities as visitors without the need to apply for employment visas/entry permits from the Immigration Department. They are non-local talent in shortage or whose participation in designated short-term activities in Hong Kong is conducive to economic development or achieving relevant policy objectives, and may participate in the designated short-term activities for up to 14 days upon each arrival and receive remuneration for the activities concerned. To implement the pilot scheme and monitor its implementation, the relevant bureaus and departments have issued Immigration Department guidelines to the authorised host organisations in their respective sectors and established reporting and communication mechanisms. Meanwhile, the current immigration facilitation for non-local speakers will be further relaxed. Also from tomorrow, non-local speakers across the board can deliver speeches/presentations without the need to apply for an employment visa/entry permit for 14 consecutive days (up from seven days) upon each arrival, and the cap on the number of events will be removed. The condition that they should not be remunerated other than for expenses in respect of the provision of accommodation, passage and meals relating to the event will remain unchanged. Those who require a visa/entry permit to visit Hong Kong may also benefit from the pilot scheme and facilitation for non-local speakers without the need to apply for a separate employment visa/entry permit. However, they still need to apply for a visit visa/entry permit. The invitees are subject to applicable immigration control for visiting Hong Kong, including examination upon arrival in accordance with the applicable laws, policies and practices. They are also subject to prevailing COVID-19 related entry restrictions.
The Law Reform Commission today published a report on Sentencing & Related Matters in the Review of Sexual Offences. The report made final recommendations on the penalties for various offences proposed in the report on Review of Substantive Sexual Offences (Report on Sexual Offences), the reform and strengthening of treatment and rehabilitation services for sex offenders in Hong Kong and the optimisation of the Sexual Conviction Record Check Scheme (SCRC Scheme). Final recommendations contained in the report include the current penalties for the existing offences of rape and incest should continue to apply to the recommended offences of sexual penetration without consent and incest. There is no final recommendation on the penalties for the proposed offences of voyeurism and non-consensual upskirt-photography as the Legislative Council had already enacted the Crimes (Amendment) Ordinance 2021 which covers, among others, the offences of voyeurism and non-consensual photography of intimate parts or private acts. Additionally, the newly issued report recommended that the current specialised treatment and rehabilitation programmes for sex offenders available on a voluntary basis at the Correctional Services Department should be maintained. The Government should review and consider the introduction of an incentive scheme for sex offenders in correctional institutions for increasing motivation for treatment and behavioural change. The provision of specialised post-release supervision to discharged sex offenders under the existing statutory schemes administered by the Post-Release Supervision Board and the Long-term Prison Sentences Review Board should be maintained. Meanwhile, the commission recommended that the current SCRC Scheme should be optimised by extending it to cover all existing employees, self-employed persons and volunteers, and the Government should extend the SCRC Scheme to its fullest and evaluate the need to make it a mandatory scheme at an appropriate time. The other final recommendation contained is the SCRC Scheme should not be extended to include "spent" convictions in order to give offenders of relatively minor sexual offences the chance to rehabilitate in accordance with the spirit of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Ordinance (Cap 297). The report follows a study by the commission’s Review of Sexual Offences Sub-committee, which issued a consultation paper on sentencing and related matters in November 2020. Click here for the full report and the executive summary.
The Department of Justice today hosted the National Security Law Legal Forum under the theme “thrive with security”. The forum was organised to commemorate the second anniversary of the Decision of the National People’s Congress on Establishing & Improving the Legal System & Enforcement Mechanisms for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to Safeguard National Security, also known as the 528 Decision. Senior government officials and world-renowned legal and financial experts were invited to share their insights about the National Security Law (NSL) and national security issues to enhance the public’s understanding. Chief Executive Carrie Lam, Deputy Director of the Hong Kong & Macao Affairs Office of the State Council Wang Linggui, and Deputy Director of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong SAR Luo Yonggang delivered welcome remarks at the opening ceremony. In addition, Deputy Director of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress Zhang Yong, Head of the Office for Safeguarding National Security of the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong SAR Zheng Yanxiong, Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Hong Kong SAR Liu Guangyuan, former Deputy Director of the Hong Kong & Macao Affairs Office of the State Council Deng Zhonghua, and Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng gave keynote speeches. The keynote speeches touched on the legal basis and significance of the 528 Decision, the development of the legal system in safeguarding national security in the Hong Kong SAR after the enactment of the NSL, and the way forward for the further establishment and improvement of the city’s legal system to protect national security, the department said. The Secretary for Justice highlighted that national security is the cornerstone for promoting national prosperity and strength, assuring a good life for the people, maintaining social harmony and stability, and realising the concepts of “security brings prosperity” and “thrive with security”. The NSL has brought the city back on track and created a favourable environment for the development of international businesses, trade and finance, legal services etc, she explained. The forum also included three panel sessions where legal and financial experts as well as government officials had in-depth discussions on the comparative study of cases under the NSL and national security cases in foreign jurisdictions, frontier issues in safeguarding national security, and the refinement of the Hong Kong SAR’s legal framework on ensuring national security, the department added.
The Government today signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT). The MOU was signed by Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng and UNIDROIT President Prof Maria Chiara Malaguti at a virtual signing ceremony. It focuses on the administrative arrangements for collaboration relating to private international law and international commercial law. This is the second MOU concluded between the Department of Justice and UNIDROIT, following the signing of the first one in May 2021, which put in place the arrangements for seconding Hong Kong legal professionals to the UNIDROIT Secretariat. Ms Cheng said in her opening remarks that the signing of the joint declaration of intent opened a new chapter in the close co-operation between the two parties, adding that it also laid the foundation for enhanced collaboration in the field of private international law. She also announced that, under the MOU, the department and UNIDROIT will be jointly launching the inaugural Asia-Pacific Private International Law Summit in the city this November, as one of the flagship events of Hong Kong Legal Week 2022.
The Department of Justice today hosted the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region 25th Anniversary Legal Conference on Basic Law Stability to Prosperity. The conference brought together heavyweight speakers to share their insights on Hong Kong's long-term development premised on "one country, two systems", the Constitution and the Basic Law. Chief Executive Carrie Lam, Deputy Director of the Hong Kong & Macao Affairs Office of the State Council Wang Linggui and Deputy Director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong SAR Chen Dong delivered remarks at the opening ceremony. Hong Kong SAR Basic Law Committee of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress Chairman Shen Chunyao then gave a keynote speech, stating that the Basic Law is a national law institutionalising "one country, two systems". At a dialogue session, Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng talked about the 25 years of implementation of the Basic Law. Former Permanent Judge of the Court of Final Appeal Henry Litton also took part in the event, giving a speech on the interpretation of the Basic Law. Panel discussions were held afterwards in which renowned speakers from different sectors and academia held discussions on topics such as the joint force of the enactment of the National Security Law and the improvement of the electoral system as well as Hong Kong's vibrant capitalist system guaranteed by the Basic Law.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam today chaired the 265th meeting of the Fight Crime Committee (FCC), which was also the last one in this term of Government. During the meeting, members were briefed that Hong Kong's law and order situation in the first quarter of this year remained stable, with a 6.2% year-on-year decrease in the total number of crime cases and a 10% drop in violent crime. A total of 13,866 crime cases were recorded for the period while the detection rate stood at 29.2%. Members expressed support for Police to continue their efforts in combating various crimes through devoting resources for publicity and education, adopting a multi-agency approach and stepping up intelligence-led enforcement operations, especially against online deception cases and youngsters committing criminal offences. On the drug abuse problem, members learnt that the total number of reported drug abusers, young drug abusers and young people arrested for drug offences increased in the previous year. They noted that more people, especially youngsters, were reported to have abused cocaine and cannabis and expressed concerns about the 20% increase in the number of people arrested for drug offences as compared to the figure in 2020. The number of young arrestees aged under 21 for serious drug offences also rose by 37%. Members were of the view that although the overall drug abuse and drug situation in the city was generally under control, the community needed to stay vigilant, particularly in drug offences involving young people. Meanwhile, the Correctional Services Department will continue to organise various public education activities and publicity campaigns to appeal for public acceptance of and community support for rehabilitated offenders, in addition to helping the prevention of crime and educating the public on the operation of Hong Kong's criminal justice system. Members supported the department's efforts in the rehabilitation of offenders and were pleased to note that such activities had received a positive response from the community. Separately, the FCC will continue to provide funding to district fight crime committees (DFCCs) in organising publicity activities, with a view to complementing the citywide anti-crime publicity campaign in disseminating fight crime messages to various sectors in the community. Mrs Lam thanked the FCC and DFCCs for their valuable advice and suggestions to the law enforcement agencies over the years in maintaining Hong Kong's stability and prosperity. “I am confident that with our concerted efforts, Hong Kong would continue to be one of the safest cities in the world,” she said. As the post of the Chief Secretary, who is the FCC chairperson, is vacant, the meeting today was chaired by the Chief Executive.