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The legal system and enforcement mechanisms of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region for safeguarding national security have been improved with the Safeguarding National Security Ordinance (SNSO) taking effect upon gazettal on March 23. The Government made the statement today, which marks the fourth anniversary of the implementation of the Hong Kong National Security Law (NSL). It stressed that it will continue to strengthen its work on safeguarding national security and focus full efforts on developing a vibrant economy and a caring community to foster a greater sense of fulfilment, happiness and security among the people.     Noting that national security is a top priority for any country as it forms the basis for a country's existence and development, the Government emphasised that the Hong Kong SAR had long been “defenceless” in terms of national security, allowing external forces and anti-China disruptors to take advantage. The “anti-national education” incident in 2012, the illegal “Occupy Central” movement in 2014, the Mong Kok riot in 2016 and the '”black-clad violence” and Hong Kong version of “colour revolution” in 2019 caused the public to live in fear. They also sought to destroy the city's rule of law, public order and political system, seriously endangering national security. Thanks to the decisive act of the central authorities in enacting the NSL, which was promulgated for implementation by the Hong Kong SAR in 2020, these shortcomings were addressed and the loopholes in the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the city to safeguard national security were plugged, the Government added. The effect of the NSL was immediate. Apart from pointing out that it turned Hong Kong from chaos to order, bringing people's livelihoods and economic activities back to normal, the Government said that the city’s rise in global competitiveness rankings to be among the world's top economies is the best testament to the fact that high-level security protection would underpin high-quality development.     The NSL and the SNSO are compatible and complementary, jointly establishing a comprehensive and effective legal system to safeguard national security and ensure the effective protection of national security, the Government stated. This “dual legislation and dual enforcement mechanism” gives full play to institutional advantages, building a strong line of defence to maintain security and stability in Hong Kong as well as providing solid institutional safeguards to promote good governance, it highlighted.     The laws of Hong Kong on safeguarding national security attach great importance to human rights, stipulating that rights and freedoms enjoyed under the Basic Law and the provisions of the two international covenants as applied to the city shall be protected in accordance with the law. The principle of protecting human rights and freedoms is enshrined in statute and in line with international standards, and is concretely and meticulously covered by various provisions in both the NSL and the SNSO.     The Government pointed out that the national security offences stipulated in the NSL and the SNSO clearly define their elements, penalties, exceptions and defences. These laws actively prevent, suppress and punish acts and activities that endanger national security, in accordance with the principle of the rule of law. Additionally, they target an extremely small minority of people and organisations that pose a threat to national security, while protecting the lives and property of the public. Law-abiding people including ordinary travellers and businesspeople visiting Hong Kong will not engage in acts and activities that endanger national security and will not unwittingly violate the law, and therefore have no reason to be worried. When discharging their duty to safeguard national security, the Hong Kong SAR law enforcement agencies have been taking law enforcement actions based on evidence and strictly in accordance with the law. Furthermore, the Department of Justice makes independent prosecutorial decisions, and prosecutions will commence only when there is sufficient admissible evidence to support a reasonable prospect of conviction and if it is in the public interest to do so. The Judiciary, meanwhile, exercises judicial power independently in accordance with the law. As guaranteed by the Basic Law and the Hong Kong Bill of Rights, all defendants charged with a criminal offence shall have the right to a fair trial by the Judiciary.     The Government said that since the implementation of the NSL, Hong Kong society has rapidly restored stability and with the SNSO now in effect, national security is protected even more effectively. However, given the increasingly complicated geopolitical situation, Hong Kong still faces ever-changing risks to national security. External forces, people with an ulterior motive, and anti-China and destabilising individuals who have absconded overseas continue to smear the situation of the Hong Kong SAR, attempting to interfere in fair trials of the court and undermine Hong Kong's prosperity and stability. The Government said that in addition to collaborating with various sectors of the community to fully implement the “dual legislation and dual enforcement mechanism” to safeguard national security, it will continue to heighten the sense of crisis and adhere to a bottom-line mentality, remaining vigilant and prepared to address such challenges.     It reiterated that it is steadfast in safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests, fully and faithfully upholding the highest principle of “one country, two systems”, while protecting the legal interests, rights and freedoms of Hong Kong people and other people in the city in accordance with the law. The Government added that it will resolutely safeguard the overall interest of the community and the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong, ensuring the steadfast and successful implementation of “one country, two systems”.
The 2024 Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area Legal Professional Examination (GBA Examination) was held today, the Department of Justice announced. Secretary for Justice Paul Lam said that as more Hong Kong legal practitioners pass the examination and obtain practice qualifications to provide legal services in the nine Mainland municipalities in the bay area, this can enable Hong Kong legal practitioners with dual qualifications to integrate into the national development and utilise their experience in handling cross-jurisdictional legal matters, contributing to the building of a pool of foreign-related legal talent in the GBA for the country. This year's GBA Examination is the first examination held after the period of the pilot scheme for Hong Kong and Macau legal practitioners to practise in the nine Mainland municipalities in the bay area was extended, and the practice experience threshold for enrolling in the GBA Examination was lowered, in September last year. In August 2020, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC) authorised the State Council to conduct a pilot scheme for eligible Hong Kong and Macau legal practitioners to provide legal services in the nine Mainland municipalities on certain civil and commercial matters to which Mainland laws apply, after passing the GBA Examination and having obtained the Lawyer's License (GBA). The pilot scheme was for a period of three years and would have originally expired on October 4 last year. The NPCSC passed a decision in September last year to extend the period of the pilot scheme until October 4, 2026. Additionally, the General Office of the State Council published revised pilot measures in September last year, lowering the practice experience threshold for Hong Kong and Macau legal practitioners to enrol in the examination from five years to three years.
Deputy Secretary for Justice Cheung Kwok-kwan today attended the 8th China-Eurasia Expo in Urumqi, Xinjiang on behalf of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government. Mr Cheung participated in the event to assist in fostering co-operation between the country and the Eurasian regions in the development of the Belt & Road Initiative. Upon arrival in Xinjiang yesterday, Mr Cheung attended a welcome dinner to meet representatives from different countries and regions. This morning, he met CPC Central Committee Political Bureau member and CPC Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Regional Committee Secretary Ma Xingrui before attending the expo’s opening ceremony and touring its exhibitions. The China-Eurasia Expo is co-hosted by the Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade and the People's Government of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. It has attracted the participation of a large number of countries, regions and international organisations as well as over 1,000 Chinese enterprises and organisations as exhibitors. There is also a dedicated pavilion for Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau enterprises at the expo this year. Mr Cheung highlighted that under the “one country, two systems” principle, Hong Kong has the unique advantage of enjoying the motherland's strong support and being closely connected to the world, and is the only common law jurisdiction within the country. The city can certainly play an active role in promoting the economic and trade co-operation and people-to-people exchanges between the country and Eurasian countries, he pointed out. The Deputy Secretary for Justice noted that Hong Kong, being the key link for the Belt & Road Initiative, will be committed to providing enterprises and economies in the Belt-Road regions with high-quality professional services, in particular one-stop and diversified legal and dispute resolution services. Enterprises can count on the city's strong professional support when participating in Belt & Road projects, he added. Additionally, the Department of Justice is actively taking forward the establishment of the Hong Kong International Legal Talents Training Academy to provide training for talent in the practice of foreign-related legal affairs for the country, and nurture legal talent conversant with international law, common law, civil law and the country's legal system for the development of the Belt & Road Initiative. Mr Cheung also said he hopes the enterprises will leverage on Hong Kong to participate in the initiative and take forward more high-quality development projects for mutual benefits.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has officially joined the South East Asia Justice Network (SEAJust), the Government announced today. Established with the support of the United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime, SEAJust is an informal platform to facilitate co-operation among member jurisdictions with the target to promote international co-operation and intelligence sharing in the combat against serious and organised crime. Currently, it has 21 members. The Hong Kong SAR Government said that Hong Kong, as a premier international financial centre, shares close trade and economic ties with other places across the globe. Moreover, the city’s Department of Justice and Police Force have been participating in international co-operation and have also been a responsible member of the community in fighting cross-border crimes. It added that the Government resonates strongly with SEAJust’s aim, and believes that the network will be able to complement conventional ways of contact among jurisdictions, thereby increasing the efficiency in international co-operation. In addition to the Hong Kong SAR, Mainland China and the Macao Special Administrative Region have also joined SEAJust. The Hong Kong SAR Government said it is excited to join SEAJust with the motherland and the Macao SAR, and looks forward to contributing to the joint efforts of the three places in combating cross-border crimes.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government today said it vehemently opposes and rejects unfounded and false remarks about Hong Kong contained in the US Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report 2024. In a statement, the Hong Kong SAR Government said trafficking in persons (TIP) is not prevalent in Hong Kong and that there has never been any evidence of the city being used by syndicates as a destination or transit point for TIP. It said that the findings in the report are groundless, and that its inclusion of Hong Kong on the level of “Tier 2 (Watch List)” is unfair, misconceived, and not substantiated by facts. Reiterating its proactive and multi-pronged efforts in confronting TIP, the Hong Kong SAR Government said it has injected enormous resources into combatting it and protecting foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) in Hong Kong. It said it spares no effort in conducting initial screenings of all persons vulnerable to TIP risks, including illegal immigrants, sex workers, illegal workers, FDHs, imported workers and other suspected victims. Around 11,000 initial screenings were conducted in 2023, up 45% from 2022. The Hong Kong SAR Government said that as a result of its heightened anti-trafficking efforts and increased screenings, only three victims were identified, which demonstrates that TIP is not prevalent in Hong Kong. The statement stressed that it is baseless and unfair to cast doubt on the Hong Kong SAR Government’s determination in combatting TIP or the quality of its screenings merely because of the low number of victims identified.        In December 2019, an FDH Special Investigation Section was established in the Immigration Department to increase scrutiny of FDH visa applications so as to identify potential TIP victims and cases of exploited FDHs. In 2023, around 1,900 officers from various government bureaus and departments, and other relevant organisations, attended TIP-related training, representing an increase of over 58% compared with 2022. This year, a new arrangement was established to provide workshops on combating TIP for frontline staff at Hong Kong International Airport. Over 100 staff members have participated in such workshops to date. Moreover, the Hong Kong SAR Government has continued its close co-operation with local consulates general in arranging regular sharing sessions to raise TIP awareness among new FDHs. Responding to remarks in the report regarding the supposed lack of composite trafficking legislation in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong SAR Government said its current legislative framework – which comprises over 50 legal provisions against TIP – provides a comprehensive package of safeguards comparable to composite TIP laws found in other jurisdictions. The statement emphasised that every jurisdiction should have latitude to determine the best legal framework to tackle TIP and that Hong Kong’s legal framework has served it well. It added that judicial rulings in recent years have affirmed on various occasions that the Hong Kong SAR Government had no positive obligation to enact and maintain an offence specifically criminalising the relevant activities prohibited under Article 4 of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights (BOR 4), and that it would have a wide margin of discretion in the manner of compliance with its obligations under BOR 4. There is no indication that the effectiveness of Hong Kong’s anti-TIP efforts has in any way been undermined by not having composite trafficking legislation, the Hong Kong SAR Government said. A high-level steering committee, established in March 2018, promulgated an Action Plan to Tackle TIP and to Enhance Protection of FDHs in Hong Kong, with multi-faceted, comprehensive, strategic and targeted measures being put in place by the end of 2019. The statement pointed out that the legal framework for safeguarding national security in the Hong Kong SAR is fully compliant with international standards for the protection of human rights, adding that legislation safeguarding national security only targets a very small number of organisations and individuals that endanger national security. The Hong Kong SAR Government reiterated that it attaches great importance to protecting the FDHs in Hong Kong, who number around 360,000, adding that as a responsible member of the international community, the city will continue its firm commitment to combatting TIP.
The Police Licensing Office today launched the HKP e-Licence mobile app for issuing electronic licences and permits to provide applicants with further convenience through e-service, Police announced. All eight types of licences and permits processed by the office will be issued through the mobile app. Such documents include Arms Licence, Massage Establishments Licence, Playing Musical Instrument Permit in Public Street or Road, Pawnbrokers Licence, Temporary Liquor Licence, Lion/Dragon/Unicorn Dance Permit, Security Personnel Permit, and Societies Registration. Currently, members of the public can make online applications and payments for the eight types of licences or permits. After the launch of HKP e-Licence, licence or permit holders can access their approved documents at any time through the mobile app. The app also features a push notification function to remind users to renew their licences or permits, Police added. Furthermore, the paper form of licences and permits will continue to be available after the launch of the app to allow document holders to keep a paper copy if they so prefer. Police pointed out that both electronic and paper copies contain identical information with QR codes, and the holders can present either format for inspection by enforcement officers.
Deputy Secretary for Justice Cheung Kwok-kwan will depart for Urumqi, Xinjiang tomorrow to attend the 8th China-Eurasia Expo on behalf of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government. Mr Cheung said with the Belt & Road Initiative entering its second decade, Hong Kong’s participation in the expo under the country’s support fully demonstrates that Hong Kong, as the only common law jurisdiction within the country, can contribute to the development of the initiative. He will return to the city on June 26.
Secretary for the Civil Service Ingrid Yeung today visited the Customs & Excise Department to learn more about its work in maritime enforcement as well as import and export clearance. Mrs Yeung first arrived at the Customs Marine Base (CMB) on Stonecutters Island, where she met Commissioner of Customs & Excise Louise Ho and directorate staff, and received a briefing from them on the department’s latest developments, law enforcement work and measures to facilitate trade and clearance. She was pleased to learn that Customs would introduce to colleagues the content of the recently updated Civil Service Code to explain the core values of civil servants. Mrs Yeung then toured the CMB and boarded a high-speed pursuit craft and a sector patrol launch, where marine enforcement staff briefed her on their patrol and law enforcement work as well as on the facilities on board. The civil service chief also chatted with frontline staff to learn about the challenges they encounter in their patrol and anti-smuggling operations. At the Cargo Examination Compound of the Kwai Chung Customhouse, she learnt more about the clearance and examination work for sea cargo, and viewed a cargo inspection demonstration by ports and maritime command staff who used the latest examination equipment to help ensure that no prohibited and controlled items enter Hong Kong. Mrs Yeung concluded her visit by meeting staff representatives from various grades in the department.
The Task Force on Basic Law Article 23 Legislation comprising the Department of Justice, the Security Bureau and the Hong Kong Police Force has been awarded in a new round of the Chief Executive's Award for Exemplary Performance. The Safeguarding National Security Ordinance was unanimously passed by the Legislative Council on March 19 this year and took effect on March 23. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region accomplished the legislation for Article 23 of the Basic Law, fulfilling the constitutional responsibility and historic mission that the city had been waiting 26 years, eight months and 19 days for. The task force held nearly 30 consultation sessions to provide detailed briefings to various sectors of the community during the one-month public consultation period. It took less than a week to conduct a comprehensive analysis on over 13,000 submissions received, and introduced the finalised bill to LegCo for scrutiny nine days after the consultation period concluded. During the Bills Committee's scrutiny, the task force gave detailed replies to more than 1,000 questions raised by LegCo members, and proposed 91 amendments after listening to and studying their views. In the face of malicious attacks and smears on Basic Law Article 23 legislation by external forces, the task force was capable of delivering prompt and cogent refutation every time to prevent the public from being misled by unfounded remarks. Chief Executive John Lee said the task force's exemplary performance in legislating for Article 23 is highly commendable, adding that it has worked tirelessly to accomplish the glorious historic mission for Hong Kong. “The efficiency, professionalism and determination of this cross-departmental task force provided important contributions to a glorious chapter in Hong Kong history. The task force demonstrates an outstanding example for the civil service and truly deserves the award.” Secretary for the Civil Service Ingrid Yeung also extended congratulations to the task force. Mrs Yeung noted the task force's relentless hard work and concerted efforts in completing the historic mission of legislating for Article 23 in a highly efficient and expeditious manner demonstrates the civil service's unwavering courage and determination to safeguard national security without fear of challenges, and that the task force is an outstanding example worthy of emulation by civil service colleagues. Task force representative and then Deputy Secretary for Security Apollonia Liu expressed her deep honour and gratitude for the task force receiving the Chief Executive's Award for Exemplary Performance. Mrs Liu pointed out that the Department of Justice, the Security Bureau and Police have all along been co-operating well in their respective roles and responsibilities in safeguarding national security. “The smooth completion of legislating for Article 23 by the team hinged on the leadership of the Chief Executive and the support of the central authorities, the high quality and very efficient scrutiny by LegCo, the full co-operation of relevant government departments and the support from various sectors of the community and members of the public who love the country and Hong Kong.”
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government today strongly condemned the vile actions of the Christian Zheng Sheng Association Board of Directors which, on top of harbouring wrongdoers, has failed to fulfil its role and duty. In a statement, the Hong Kong SAR Government said it has completely lost faith in the board. It noted that the Security Bureau’s Narcotics Division met the association’s newly formed board following the latter’s claims on June 12 that it would make decisions relating to the Christian Zheng Sheng College with a responsible attitude. To its dismay, the Hong Kong SAR Government found that the board did not substantiate its claims. There are also reasons to question the truthfulness of the board's claims that it has cut all ties with its former directors Lam Hay-sing and Alman Chan, who have absconded from Hong Kong. On the board’s claims that the suspension of the college’s operation was due to financial difficulties, the statement pointed out that the board, after a reorganisation, immediately passed a resolution at its first meeting refusing to recover funds amounting to over $50 million. The funds were raised in the name of the college and were transferred abroad by Lam Hay-sing and Alman Chan earlier. At the meeting, the board again refused to recover the money concerned, which clearly shows that it has no intention to help the college’s teachers and students, and it is suspicious that the board is trying to harbour the absconders. The statement also rejected the board’s claims that it has cut all ties with Lam Hay-sing and Alman Chan, and that the duo have no power to direct the board’s decisions. The fact is that the two wanted persons are still board members of the Christian Zheng Sheng College Limited and/or the Zheng Sheng Charities Limited under the association, and can also operate the bank accounts of the association and its subsidiaries. Furthermore, since taking up office in mid-April, the current board has neither proposed any specific measures to resolve the problems faced by the college, nor shown any commitment and capacity to manage the college. Instead, it issued an inaccurate statement to mislead the public. The Hong Kong SAR Government reiterated that it accords great importance to students’ interests, and has placed the welfare of the college’s teachers and students as a top priority.  While relevant government departments will provide the most appropriate assistance and arrangements for students who are leaving the college, law enforcement agencies will investigate and follow up on matters concerning the association and the college in accordance with the law, it added.