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(To watch the full media session with sign language interpretation, click here.) Chief Executive Carrie Lam today stated that putting a case before the Chief Executive-in-Council for a decision to remove a group from the Companies Register was in line with legal provisions. Ahead of the Executive Council meeting this morning, Mrs Lam told reporters that the action taken by Security for Security Tang Ping-keung with respect to the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China was associated with the legal requirement that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region should prevent and suppress actions that will endanger national security. Mrs Lam said: "The National Security Law is not just about arresting suspects and then punishing them. It is also about preventing such activities from happening because that is the best approach to safeguard national security in any place. "So the Secretary for Security, based on the recommendations of the Commissioner of Police - which of course must contain a lot of evidence - has taken this action, which is provided for under the Companies (Winding Up & Miscellaneous Provisions) Ordinance." If a registered company is regarded as breaching the law or endangering national security, a case could be put to the Chief Executive-in-Council for a decision to strike off that company from the register, she further explained. Whether or not to exercise the power to deregister the group will depend on the evidence and explanations provided by the alliance, Mrs Lam added.
The Law Reform Commission has proposed a new offence to highlight the focus of protecting children and vulnerable people by prevention and deterrence. In a report published today, the commission suggested to impose criminal liability on those who fail to take reasonable steps to protect a child under 16 or a vulnerable person over 16, including the elderly and the disabled, from death or serious harm. The proposed offence would apply in domestic settings where the defendant was a member of the same household and had frequent contact with the victim. It would also apply in institutional settings where the defendant owed a duty of care to the victim, such as domestic helpers, school teachers and elderly home managers. The mental element of the proposed offence is that the defendant knew or had reasonable grounds to believe that there was a risk of serious harm to the victim, including psychological or psychiatric harm resulting from sexual assault. Another element pertains to the defendant's failure to take reasonable steps to protect the victim. There would be a maximum of 20 years' jail in cases where the victim dies and 15 years' imprisonment where the victim suffers serious harm. Law Reform Commission Causing or Allowing the Death of a Child or Vulnerable Adult Sub-committee Chairman Amanda Whitfort said: “This is a proactive, preventative offence. It seeks to encourage intervention before the worst has occurred. It also closes the current evidential loophole which creates problems when the prosecution cannot identify the perpetrator of the abuse.” The commission also recommends that the Government should review the maximum penalty for the offence of ill-treatment or neglect of a child. The report follows a study by the sub-committee, which issued a consultation paper in May 2019. It has studied the laws and practices of other common law jurisdictions, in particular England, South Australia and New Zealand. To read the full report or the executive summary, visit the commission’s website.
A ceremony to launch the Secondment of Young Professionals from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to International Law Organisations was held today. It was hosted by the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Hong Kong SAR to support the Department of Justice's efforts to put in place programmes to second local legal talent to international organisations. Speaking at the event, Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng thanked the ministry for facilitating the secondment programmes between the Hong Kong SAR and international organisations, thereby enabling local young legal talent to take part in the international arena. “It truly reflects the care of the country towards the Hong Kong youth, while demonstrating the unique advantages of 'one country, two systems'. I also hope that young legal talent would seize the precious opportunities to gain different exposure, and proactively integrate into and contribute to national development in the future.” Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Hong Kong SAR Commissioner Liu Guangyuan supplemented that the secondments mark an achievement of national diplomacy to the benefit of the youth and that he hopes the young talent will gain knowledge and experience by taking part in the international arena and bring glory to the country and Hong Kong. The department noted that with the central government's staunch support and the Hong Kong SAR Government's hard work, the secondment programmes have achieved substantive progress recently. The number of positions available is historically high and some positions are open to non-government officers, which is different from the previous programmes, it added. Last December, the department signed a memorandum of understanding with the Hague Conference on Private International Law, under which one of its counsels and a solicitor in private practice will start a six-month secondment this month and in February 2022. In May 2021, it signed another pact with the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law for a secondment programme that is open to legal professionals in both the public and private sectors. In addition, an agreement was reached with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in June this year for the secondment of one of the department's officers to the bank's legal department for 12 months, which started on August 23. The department said that it will continue to explore secondment opportunities with other renowned international organisations to enable Hong Kong legal professionals to gain valuable work experience and receive training in international law.
A total of seven general committee members of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China were arrested on suspicion of violating offences under the National Security Law. The six men and one woman, aged between 36 and 71, were arrested by the Police National Security Department after it launched enforcement operations in various districts from September 8 and 9. The department also conducted searches at the organisation’s headquarters and warehouse in Mong Kok and Kwai Chung with a court warrant. Documents, computers and promotional materials in connection with the case were seized and about $2.2 million worth of the organisation’s assets were frozen. Each of the arrestees were charged for failing to comply with the requirement to provide information pursuant to Schedule 5 of the Implementation Rules for Article 43 of the National Security Law. Additionally, the 36-year-old woman and two men as well as the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China were charged for inciting subversion under Article 22 and 23 of the National Security Law. The case will be heard at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts tomorrow.
Officers of the Police National Security Department launched enforcement operations in various districts today and arrested three men and one woman for failing to comply with a notice to provide information pursuant to the Implementation Rules for Article 43 of the National Security Law. Police explained that the people arrested, aged between 36 and 57, are being detained for further enquiries. It added that the investigation is still underway and further arrests may be made. The Security Bureau expressed its support for the law enforcement actions taken by Police in accordance with the law against an organisation which blatantly indicated that it would not comply with the requirement to provide information under the National Security Law. The bureau said ignoring warnings given, the organisation concerned resolutely insisted on refusing to comply with Police’s requirement to provide information. Hence, Police had to take law enforcement actions. The bureau reiterated that any law enforcement actions taken by the law enforcement agencies are based on evidence, strictly according to the law, and for the acts of the people or entities concerned. Those who fail to comply with the submission requirements will be liable to a fine of $100,000 and imprisonment for half a year, the bureau added.
Secretary for Security Tang Ping-keung today said legal action must be taken if any organisation refuses to provide information as requested by Police under the National Security Law. Police's National Security Department issued notices in writing to several organisations including Hong Kong Alliance, requiring them to provide information. Speaking to reporters after a Legislative Council Panel on Security meeting, Mr Tang said the notices were issued pursuant to Schedule 5 of the Implementation Rules for Article 43 of the National Security Law. He explained that relevant law provisions state clearly the definition of foreign agents, which includes people who receive financial support from overseas political parties or organisations and then act to the benefit of those foreign organisations. The security chief added that as legal action is likely to be taken, he cannot disclose further details of the case at the moment.
Police’s National Security Department today severely condemned an organisation’s open expression that it would refuse to provide the data requested pursuant to the National Security Law. Under Schedule 5 of the Implementation Rules for Article 43 of the National Security Law, Police issued notices in writing to various organisations on August 25 asking for information to be provided no later than September 7. While certain organisations had complied with the instruction, some others requested an extension. It also noticed an organisation openly repeated that it would not follow the legal requirement and reject the information request. The force reiterated that people or organisations failing to provide information in time will be liable to a fine of $100,000 and imprisonment for half a year. Follow-up action will be taken in accordance with the law with respect to incompliance, Police added.
Police arrested 2,320 people and seized cash, dangerous drugs and illicit goods worth about $390 million in an anti-crime operation jointly mounted by Hong Kong, Guangdong and Macau authorities from June to August. During the operation, Police conducted searches at about 2,000 locations including bars, amusement game centres, cyber cafes, party rooms and residential units. It smashed illegal gambling and vice establishments as well as drug distribution centres and arrested 1,616 men and 704 women for triad and drug-related offences, robbery, illegal immigration, illegal gambling, bookmaking, criminal damage, blackmail, wounding and possession of offensive weapons. Bookmaking records worth about $3.6 billion were also seized during the operation. Police said it will continue to maintain close liaison and exchange intelligence with authorities on the Mainland and Macau to interdict cross-boundary triad activities and uphold public confidence in law and order.
The Security Bureau today expressed regret over the misleading remarks made by members of the Next Digital Board of Directors in their announcement of stepping down from their roles, and considered it necessary to clarify the key facts. The bureau said that prosecutions and other enforcement actions taken by law enforcement agencies are based on evidence, strictly according to the law, and for the acts of the people or entities concerned. The prosecution case has already been stipulated clearly in the allegations submitted by the prosecution to the court in writing during the legal proceedings and supplied to the defendants. During the stage of mention hearing, the prosecution case will only be disclosed to the defendants, including their legal representatives, but not the general public. The bureau noted that this is the prevailing arrangement in criminal proceedings to ensure that future hearings could be conducted fairly. Regarding the decisions on freezing properties, the Secretary for Security issued notices for freezing of property in writing pursuant to relevant provisions of Schedule 3 of the Implementation Rules under the National Security Law on two occasions. They included the freezing of the shares of Next Digital held by Jimmy Lai and the property in the local bank accounts of three overseas companies owned by him in May, as well as the freezing of the property in the local bank accounts, totalling around $18 million, of three subsidiaries related to Apple Daily's publication and online businesses in June. The bureau emphasised that the written notices for freezing of property issued in June only included the three subsidiaries. Offence related property, which can be subject to freezing actions, is also clearly defined under Schedule 3 of the Implementation Rules. Law enforcement authorities exercise their powers conferred by the National Security Law, the Implementation Rules and other relevant laws strictly in accordance with the law and procedures, it added. Meanwhile, Next Digital stated in its announcement in May that the group had sufficient liquidity, and had a working capital of about $520 million as at March 31 which would be sufficient for the company to operate for 18 months from April. Furthermore, the company made an announcement in July, disclosing that it had made an early loan repayment of $150 million to its former chairman and major shareholder. The bureau said the situation showed that there is no such thing as Next Digital being forced into liquidation due to a lack of funds arising from enforcement actions. The company is trying to shift its responsibility by putting the blame of its operational decision on law enforcement actions, with the enforcement authorities which act in accordance with the law as scapegoat, and maliciously smearing the National Security Law. The bureau also pointed out that according to the previous financial reports of Next Digital, there was still considerable time to go before the loan was due. This casts doubt as to whether such repayment was potentially intended to defraud the company's creditors. This was one of the key concerns raised when the Financial Secretary earlier announced the appointment of an inspector to investigate the affairs of Next Digital under the Companies Ordinance, it said. The bureau reiterated that law enforcement authorities will continue to handle the case and pursue legal action strictly in accordance with the law, adding that the public should recognise the facts and avoid being misled.
The Security Bureau today issued a solemn warning to an organisation which has stated openly its intention to refuse to comply with a police request to provide information under the National Security Law. The bureau said endangering national security is a serious and damaging crime, adding that action must be taken to prevent and suppress the act. To effectively prevent and suppress offences endangering national security, law enforcement officers need to obtain relevant information about certain foreign or Taiwan political organisations and agents. It reiterated that actions taken by law enforcement agencies are based on evidence, strictly according to the law, for the acts of the people or entities concerned. The bureau said it supports Police in taking law enforcement actions in accordance with the law. To avoid bearing the legal risk, the organisation concerned should immediately turn back before it is too late. Police’s National Security Department issued notices in writing to various organisations on August 25 requesting information, pursuant to Schedule 5 of the Implementation Rules for Article 43 of the National Security Law. The force reiterated that failing to provide information in time will be liable to a fine of $100,000 and imprisonment for half a year. If any information provided is false, incorrect, or incomplete, the person is liable to a fine of $100,000 and two years' imprisonment.