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Customs seized about 80,000 suspected counterfeit items with an estimated market value of more than $22 million and arrested five people during an operation against cross-boundary shipment and the local sale of fake goods. The seized goods included watches, mobile phone accessories, sunglasses and fashion accessories. Codenamed "Tracer II", the operation was conducted from April 26 to May 9. By gathering intelligence, Customs officers identified about 30 logistics companies in Yuen Long, Tsing Yi and Kwai Chung and performed strike-and-search operations. About 78,000 suspected counterfeit goods, worth an estimated value of about $21 million, were seized. After a follow-up investigation, the department believed that some of the suspected counterfeit goods would have been sold locally while the rest were for re-export to overseas destinations. It subsequently mounted two controlled delivery operations. During one of the operations on April 26, Customs officers raided a suspected counterfeit sports footwear retail shop in an industrial building in Kwun Tong. They seized about 880 suspected counterfeit items with an estimated market value of about $960,000 and arrested four men. Officers then arrested a female consignee in a Grade A office unit in Tsuen Wan on May 4 and seized 19 items of suspected counterfeit handbags, clothes and accessories with an estimated value of about $10,000. The five arrestees, aged 25 or 26, have been released on bail and an investigation is ongoing. Customs said it will continue to step up stringent inspections and enforcement to vigorously combat counterfeiting activities. People may call 2545 6182 or send an email to the department to report suspected counterfeiting activities.
Secretary for Security Tang Ping-keung today said the Government will work on the enactment of Article 23 of the Basic Law as soon as possible. Speaking to the media at the Legislative Council Complex, Mr Tang explained that the consultation work on Article 23 has been postponed. “Originally, we were thinking that we should launch a public consultation on the enactment of Article 23 of the Basic Law in the first half of this year, but because of the COVID-19 epidemic situation, we have to focus on the fight against the virus.” He also noted that enacting the law is a complicated and serious matter. “We have to make sure that the new legislation is able to handle what happened in the past, what is happening in the current moment and also what will happen in the future. We have to be very cautious in working out a detailed and workable plan and we will try our best to do it as soon as possible.” Answering lawmakers’ questions this morning, Mr Tang pointed out there also practical needs to legislate on Article 23. He said since the reunification of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, there are deficiencies in the laws and enforcement mechanisms for safeguarding national security. “In recent years, following the overall development of the state, many western countries regard China as a major competitor and even take a completely hostile position against it,” Mr Tang noted. Given Hong Kong's unique environment and lifestyles under the principle of “one country, two systems”, it is easy for external elements to infiltrate with malicious intention, or even attempt to foment “colour revolution”, subvert state power, as well as to promote and advocate Hong Kong independence, thus intensifying national security risks. Mr Tang said the Government will adhere to the principle of openness and transparency for publicity and explanatory work. He added that the work of formulating the legislative proposals is of a complicated nature and the Government will continue to proactively embrace challenges and handle the work proficiently.
Hong Kong’s law and order situation in the first quarter of this year remained stable, with a 6.2% drop in total crime cases compared to the same period last year, Police said today. A total of 13,866 crime cases were recorded in the period. Decreases were registered in robbery, burglary, wounding and serious assault, criminal intimidation, criminal damage, theft and serious drug offences. However, there were increases in cases of homicide, child abuse, deception and blackmail. The number of deception cases rose 29% to 5,378, over 70% of which were Internet-related. The rise was mainly driven by the upsurge of cases in online shopping, employment and investment fraud as well as telephone deception. There were less compensated dating and romance scam cases, but the pecuniary loss involved rose 31% to $14.3 million and $180 million. A total of 432 blackmail cases were recorded, an increase of 28.6% compared with the same period last year. The upsurge was mainly attributable to “naked chat” blackmail. As at March 31, Police arrested a total of 175 people in its efforts to enforce the National Security Law. Of that figure, over 110 people have been charged.
Secretary for Security Tang Ping-keung today said the Government is considering the experience and methods of other countries and regions in tackling fake news and false information. Mr Tang told lawmakers the Home Affairs Bureau has commissioned a consultancy to study legislation enacted in overseas jurisdictions in recent years for regulating disinformation and provide recommendations regarding the ensuing legislative work. He pointed out that the laws of different places vary in terms of their legislative intent, application and execution, in addition, the topic of false information covers a wide range of issues. Not an instance has been found around the world where issues from the distribution of fake news, online false statements to false information for election manipulation can be collectively tackled by one single piece of legislation. Mr Tang said that the study will make reference to the legislation and enforcement experience of different countries and regions, with a view to working out a set of effective legal regulatory proposals appropriate to the local situations. He also noted that during the fifth wave of the epidemic, some members of the public claimed to have tested positive for COVID-19 on social platforms and flagrantly breached quarantine requirements and advocated COVID-19 confirmed patients to go around the city to spread the virus. Mr Tang said such inappropriate speech was made with an intention to undermine the Government's anti-epidemic work. The security chief emphasised that Police will not tolerate such acts and take appropriate enforcement action. As at April 30, 19 people have been arrested for inciting others to violate anti-epidemic measures, inciting others to vandalise government anti-epidemic facilities or disseminating false anti-epidemic messages.
Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng today signed a framework arrangement for collaboration with Chinese Institute of Hong Kong Executive Vice-President Prof Huang Ping who is authorised by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). Such an arrangement will enable exchanges and co-operation concerning rule of law research in an effort to continue fostering the building of Hong Kong's Rule of Law Database, which was officially launched in November last year. Under the arrangement, both sides will strive to strengthen, encourage and promote exchanges and co-operation in the area of rule of law research. The Chinese Institute of Hong Kong will also conduct dedicated studies on issues related to the rule of law and the building of a rule of law database with objective data. Under the co-ordination of the Department of Justice (DoJ) and the Chinese Institute of Hong Kong, the CASS may collaborate with experts in areas such as academic research. Ms Cheng said the CASS is a prestigious Mainland academic institution that focuses on the study of social sciences. As a branch of the CASS, the Chinese Institute of Hong Kong pools together academic and social resources in the city and the Mainland to initiate various types of research in social sciences. The signing of the framework arrangement for collaboration will be conducive to understanding the practice of rule of law based on analysis of objective data, she added. Hong Kong's Rule of Law Database is one of the important projects under the DoJ's Vision 2030 for Rule of Law initiative, collecting and collating objective data and research relating to the practice of rule of law.
The Fire Services Department (FSD) will thoroughly study the recommendations in the verdict of Coroner's Court concerning the fire-fighting operation of a No. 4 fire at Amoycan Industrial Centre in June 2016. It also conveyed its deepest condolences to the families of the two personnel who died during the operation. The department has implemented a series of improvement measures to enhance the safety and operational efficiency of frontline personnel after an interdepartmental task force formed after the No.4 fire made a number of recommendations. It has enhanced the operational procedures of breathing apparatus and established a team to provide logistical support in relation to the operation of such apparatus at incidents. Additionally, new ancillary equipment on breathing apparatus has been introduced such as the firefighter locator system and retractable personal lines to facilitate rescue operations. The department has improved the arrangement for rest areas at incidents, devised guidelines on frontline work and rest schedules under hot or inclement weather, stepped up training on staff awareness of heat-related illnesses and relevant preventive measures. It has also issued a safety alert on prevention of heat stroke and reminders upon the issuance of the “Very Hot Weather Warning” signal. The FSD has been working closely with other departments to conduct inspections and take enforcement action in mini-storage premises since June 2016. As at April 30 this year, the department had inspected 1,222 mini-storage premises and found 3,222 common fire hazards in 959 mini-storage premises. Notices were issued to the operators concerned requiring them to abate the fire hazards within specified periods, with prosecutions having been instituted against 221 operators for failing to comply. The Fire Safety (Industrial Buildings) Ordinance, implemented in 2020, mandates that owners and occupiers of pre-1987 industrial buildings upgrade the provision of fire service installations and equipment and fire safety construction, as per the instructions of the directors of the FSD and the Buildings Department. The fire safety standards of all premises inside the old industrial buildings, including mini-storage premises, are subject to the ordinance and have to comply with the direction to carry out fire safety improvement works.
Chief Executive-elect John Lee today said the 2022 Chief Executive Election was held according to the law under the improved electoral system. Mr Lee was responding to a statement issued by the European Union concerning the election that was held yesterday. “I disagree (with them) and I think they were wrong because the election was conducted according to the (Improving Electoral System (Consolidated Amendments) Ordinance 2021) in Hong Kong. “The (Improving Electoral System (Consolidated Amendments) Ordinance 2021) was enacted because of what happened in the years of chaos and also attempts to sabotage Hong Kong’s governance with a high degree of foreign intervention.” Mr Lee emphasised that the improved electoral system serves the overall interests of Hong Kong. “It has already created positive results, as you can see, in the Legislative Council (where) a lot of debates are very practical and a lot of the discussions are very rational and of high quality.”
Customs today announced that it detected a suspected money laundering case and arrested four people who were suspected of using personal bank accounts at various banks in Hong Kong, including virtual banks, to launder about $600 million from unknown sources since 2020. The department has arranged to freeze a total bank balance of $1.7 million held by the arrestees. Acting on intelligence, Customs officers targeted four local people whose background and financial status were highly incommensurate with the large amount of suspicious transactions recorded in their personal bank accounts. Apart from processing a large amount of money from unknown sources through local bank accounts, they also opened accounts at an overseas cryptocurrency exchange trading platform to deal with cryptocurrencies from unknown sources. Then they converted the cryptocurrencies into fiat currencies and remitted the suspicious funds out via local banks. They were suspected of engaging in money laundering activities. After in-depth investigations, the department mounted an operation on April 28, during which it raided four residential premises, five offices and two licensed money changers. Two men and two women, aged between 32 and 54, were arrested for money laundering. They have been released on bail and an investigation is ongoing. Customs has not ruled out the likelihood of more arrests. Call 2545 6182 or send an email to the department to report suspected money laundering activities.
Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng today attended the award presentation ceremony of the "Key to the Future" Short Video Competition organised by the Department of Justice, which aims to enhance rule of law awareness among youths. The competition is the first of its kind designated for secondary students in the Rule of Law Enlightenment programme under the department's Vision 2030 for Rule of Law initiative. It received an encouraging response of 70 video entries. Most of them focused on the law-abiding spirit, showing that the students are aware of the utmost importance of abiding by the law in a society's rule of law. By making a three-minute short video, participants demonstrated their creativity to promote the rule of law and shared their thoughts on its future development, the department noted. Addressing the event, Ms Cheng said she hopes that students would be enlightened to share their thoughts on the meaning of the rule of law from different perspectives through the competition, with a view to strengthening the proper understanding and practice of the rule of law. Click here for the list of competition winners.
The Mediation Conference 2022 was successfully held today as it attracted more than 1,200 online participants from 19 jurisdictions around the globe. The conference is the highlight of Mediation Week 2022 and a celebration event of the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng, while delivering the welcoming remarks, noted the importance of cultivating roots for Chinese culture showcased by mediation for young people. She said the accomplishments in Hong Kong's legal and dispute resolution sector played a crucial role in the way forward with the development of mediation in the city and the Greater Bay Area.      Prof Liu Jingdong of the Chinese Academy of Social Science shared his insights on the signing of the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation by the Mainland and his anticipation for the implementation of reciprocal recognition and enforcement of mediated settlement agreements in the bay area.      Panel discussions covered the impact of the new Mainland Judgments in Matrimonial & Family Cases (Reciprocal Recognition & Enforcement) Ordinance and how mediation is well suited for tackling disputes during the Covid-19 epidemic.      Also duing the forum, Law Officer (Civil Law) of the Department of Justice Christina Cheung announced the launch of the fourth edition of "The Judge Over Your Shoulder - A Guide to Judicial Review for Administrators". She described the support received throughout Mediation Week and the conference as being a vote of confidence to further promote mediation.