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The Department of Justice is always committed to upholding the rule of law. Last year, we launched the Vision 2030 for Rule of Law initiative to promote the proper understanding of the rule of law in the community especially among the youth. In the coming new school year, the department will continue to introduce diversified activities for primary and secondary students to advance their understanding and practice of the rule of law. In February this year, the department, through touring drama performances for all citywide primary schools, conveys the basic concepts of the rule of law and cultivates law-abiding awareness in a lively and interesting way to students. As to secondary students, the department supports the launch of the Pilot Scheme on Rule of Law Education for Secondary School Students by the Hong Kong Policy Research Institute (HKPRI) in the 2020-21 academic year. Lawyers were invited to serve as facilitators while law students and graduates served as ambassadors. Secondary students are able to grasp the proper core concepts of the rule of law after taking part in seminars, interactive games and group discussions. The department also assists in the preparation of teaching materials on the rule of law. For instance, the Basic Law Foundation’s e-Resources for Rule of Law & the Basic Law, which was supported by the department, provides a series of teaching materials on the Constitution, the Basic Law and the rule of law for teachers of secondary schools. At the same time, the department is in support of the training course “Respecting the Law, Reinforcing the Rule of Law” co-organised by the Endeavour Education Centre and the Education Bureau for teachers from both primary and secondary schools. The course covers topics including the Constitution, the Basic Law, national security, Hong Kong’s legal system and the rule of law, etc., with a view to fostering the promotion of the rule of law education. In the new school year, the department will not only continue the above programmes, but also stand ready to introduce the Rule of Law Enlightenment Programme to further promote the rule of law in a more interesting way with enriched content. To name a few: School talks: students can raise questions at the talk to enhance interaction; Prosecution Week: Quiz and visit to courts will be arranged for students; Rule of Law Journey: students can learn more of the legal development through visits to the Hong Kong Legal Hub. To highlight the importance of abiding by the law and the application of law in our daily life, the department will organise a law quiz competition for primary students. A video competition will be held in which secondary students are encouraged to share their thoughts on the rule of law. If you are interested in any of our programmes, please do not hesitate to read the latest booklet on Vision 2030 for Rule of Law. The rule of law is the cornerstone of Hong Kong’s success. Everyone in society shoulders the responsibility to promote the proper concept of the rule of law. I would like to thank the HKPRI, the Basic Law Foundation and the Endeavour Education Centre for joining hands with the department in supporting rule of law education. The department will actively strengthen rule of law education so as to further enhance the proper understanding and practice of the rule of law amongst youth. Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng wrote this article and posted it on her blog on September 4.
Customs today announced that it will commence an investigation after it received 15 complaints concerning a beauty group as of 11am. Customs said it noticed that three beauty parlours under a beauty group had suddenly announced in recent days that they were suspending operations. Therefore, customers who had purchased prepaid beauty services could not use the services. Customs stressed that it is highly concerned about the incident and has set up a dedicated team to handle the cases as soon as possible. The department has been contacting the complainants for details to start an investigation. The department said it will also continue to closely monitor the situation and maintain close liaison with the Consumer Council to assist affected customers. Should there be any violation of the Trade Descriptions Ordinance, Customs will take decisive enforcement action, it added. While Customs reminds traders to comply with the ordinance, consumers are also reminded to procure services at reputable shops and think prudently before consumption with prepayment. The public can report suspected violations by calling 2545 6182 or sending an email.
Customs today announced that it had seized about 220kg of suspected ketamine with an estimated market value of around $125 million, marking its largest seaborne ketamine trafficking case since May 2012. Through risk assessment and intelligence exchanges, customs officers inspected a sea freight consignment declared as carrying cotton yarn that arrived from Pakistan on July 30. The batch of suspected ketamine was found hidden inside 162 cotton yarn spools mix-loaded with other cotton yarn spools. A 35-year-old female suspect was arrested on August 31. Customs Drug Investigation Bureau (Drug Investigation) Acting Group Head Philip Chan told a press conference that the woman is the responsible person of a legitimate logistics company in the city. “According to our preliminary investigation, we found that this logistics company acted as an agent for the real consignee in Hong Kong. “According to our findings, this logistics company, up to this moment, has not received any requests from the consignee to collect this consignment. So we believe that the syndicate behind (the ketamine trafficking case) is still buying time to find the real buyer - maybe in Hong Kong or maybe overseas. “After they confirm the buyer, they will give instructions to this logistics company to collect the consignment and send it to the buyer.” Mr Chan added that investigations are underway into whether the drugs were destined for the local or overseas market. Customs reminded the public not to participate in drug trafficking for monetary return. They must not accept hiring or delegation to carry controlled items into and out of Hong Kong. Citizens are also advised against carrying unknown items for others or releasing their personal data or home address for receiving parcels or goods. The maximum penalty for dangerous drug trafficking is a fine of $5 million and life imprisonment. Report suspected drug trafficking activities to the customs hotline at 2545 6182 or by email.
The Department of Justice today launched a combined English-Chinese glossary of legal terms to promote the development of legal bilingualism in Hong Kong. The combined glossary has more than 60,000 entries of legal terms which are commonly used in the city and sourced from Hong Kong legislation, judicial authorities and other legal publications. It comprises six glossaries prepared by the Civil, Constitutional & Policy Affairs, International Law, Law Drafting and Prosecutions divisions as well as the Law Reform Commission Secretariat. The department hopes that the combined glossary can facilitate legal translation work and promote the broader use of Chinese in the local legal field. The existing English-Chinese glossary of legal terms on the Hong Kong e-Legislation database will run in parallel with the new combined glossary before being discontinued at a later stage. The department is also compiling a combined Chinese-English glossary of legal terms, which is targeted to be published by the end of the year at the earliest. Meanwhile, the Chinese-English glossary of legal terms is still available on the e-Legislation website.
Police's National Security Department today said it has launched an investigation into 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund for suspected contravention of the National Security Law or other Hong Kong laws. According to Schedule 7 of the Implementation Rules for Article 43 of the National Security Law, Police can apply to the High Court for a production order, requesting relevant people to furnish information in connection with the investigation of offences endangering national security. The force reminded citizens that breaching the security law is a serious crime and that providing pecuniary or other financial assistance or property to other people for contravention of this law would also constitute an offence. It urged the public to abide by the law as any person who incites, aids, abets or provides pecuniary or other financial assistance or property to other people for committing offences under the National Security Law may be guilty of an offence.
The Hong Kong Legal Hub, comprising the Justice Place (former Central Government Offices), the former French Mission Building and part of Two Exchange Square, was commissioned in November last year. By housing local, regional and international law-related organisations in the heart of the central business district, it provides a platform for the provision of premier legal services. Some of the places in the Hong Kong Legal Hub are built heritage with high historical value. Today, I am very pleased to welcome a group of students for a visit to better understand the law and the rule of law by having close encounters with Hong Kong’s legal development and retracing its footsteps. The students first stopped by the Function Hall on the first floor of the Justice Place. It was the Legislative Council Chamber a long time ago before becoming the venue for the Government to host important events, such as the announcements of the Policy Address and the Budget. Afterwards, they visited the former Executive Council Chamber where antique chairs and table are preserved. The students were told that the political structure in Hong Kong is an executive-led system headed by the Chief Executive, and the executive authorities, the legislature and the judiciary which perform their respective functions under the executive-led system in accordance with the Basic Law and complement each other. At the Legal Hub, known as the West Wing of the former Central Government Offices where many offices of the law-related organisations specialising in different legal or dispute resolution services are located nowadays, the students appreciated that it has reflected Hong Kong's status as a leading centre for international legal and dispute resolution services in the Asia-Pacific region. This is also the objective as set out in the National 14th Five-Year Plan and the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. The visit to the former French Mission Building was the highlight and the finale of the journey. The building was declared as a monument in 1989. It was a temporary residence for the first Governor and later the Russian Consulate, and subsequently acquired by the Missions Étrangères de Paris in 1915 and rebuilt. After the Second World War, the Hong Kong Government purchased the building housing various departments, the Victoria District Court and the Supreme Court. Since Hong Kong’s return to the motherland, it was the home of the Court of Final Appeal (CFA) until 2015. After the CFA was relocated, the building was incorporated into the Legal Hub project, and is currently used by international legal organisations as their offices. Apart from the granite columns, verandahs and balustrades, the cupola and the chapel, the students were impressed by our independent judiciary, the corner stone of Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability under “one country, two systems”. They came to understand that our judicial independence is premised on the solid infrastructure that has been laid down in the Basic Law, including the security of tenure, the immunity of judges, the non-revolving door, and importantly the expressed provision in Article 85 of the Basic Law that guarantees judicial independence, free from any interference. All judges are required to safeguard the rule of law and administer justice without fear or favour. Our judicial system is highly regarded and internationally recognised, as demonstrated by the fact that Hong Kong cases are cited in overseas jurisprudence from time to time and eminent judges of the courts of other common law jurisdictions sit on our CFA. The “Rule of Law Journey” is one of the projects under the 10-year initiative “Vision 2030 for Rule of Law”, aiming to enhance the understanding of the rule of law among young people, in particular students. In addition to this programme, we have organised a series of activities which will enable the youth to better understand the law and develop the culture of lawfulness. I will be happy to give you more details about the activities at the start of the new school year, hoping that our initiatives will contribute to a fair and rule-based society underpinned by the rule of law. Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng wrote this article and posted it on her blog on August 30.
The Government today gazetted the relevant rules and commencement notice to implement an arrangement with Mainland courts in Hong Kong that will benefit parties to cross-boundary marriages, families and their children. The relevant ordinance seeks to implement the Arrangement on Reciprocal Recognition & Enforcement of Civil Judgments in Matrimonial & Family Cases by the Courts of the Mainland and of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in Hong Kong. It establishes mechanisms in Hong Kong in respect of the registration of specified orders in Mainland Judgments given in matrimonial or family cases, the recognition of Mainland divorce certificates and the application for certified copies of and the issue of relevant certificates for Hong Kong Judgments given in matrimonial or family cases. On the Mainland, the arrangement will be implemented by way of judicial interpretation to be promulgated by the Supreme People’s Court. The Department of Justice said the implementation of the ordinance and the arrangement will benefit parties to cross-boundary marriages, families and their children. By providing a more expeditious and more cost effective mechanism for reciprocal recognition and enforcement of judgments given in matrimonial and family cases between Hong Kong and the Mainland, the need for re-litigation of the same disputes in both places can be reduced, thereby saving the parties’ time and costs, and their rights will also be better safeguarded. This will also help mitigate the impact of matrimonial proceedings on the parties to the marriage and on the family’s children as well as relieving their emotional distress. The Government is planning to launch publicity programmes to familiarise legal practitioners and the general public with the mechanisms established under the ordinance. A workshop will be co-organised with the Supreme People’s Court, along with a “one-stop shop” dedicated webpage and promotional leaflets. The Mainland Judgments in Matrimonial & Family Cases (Reciprocal Recognition & Enforcement) Ordinance (Commencement) Notice and the rules will be tabled before the Legislative Council on September 1 subject to negative vetting. The ordinance and the rules will come into operation on February 15, 2022.
Hong Kong residents born in 1977, 1978 or 1979 should apply for a new smart identity card at a smart identity card replacement centre from September 20 to November 18, 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. Applicants may take up to two disabled people and two family members or two friends aged 65 or above to replace their identity cards together. 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.
To promote the use of stand-alone battery-operated fire detectors, the Fire Services Department announced today that the Fire Service (Installations & Equipment) (Amendment) Regulation 2021 will come into effect on September 1. The department explained that a stand-alone fire detector is a self-contained battery-operated device that incorporates a fire detector and an alarm that sounds an audible or other warning at the beginning of a fire, allowing occupants to evacuate in time. The amendment will exempt owners/occupants of any buildings/premises from the obligation of engaging registered fire service installation contractors for the installation, maintenance, inspection or repair of stand-alone fire detectors. They will also be free from the statutory duty of keeping the detectors in efficient working order at all times and having them inspected by registered contractors at least once every 12 months. The facilitation measure encourages citizens to voluntarily install stand-alone fire detectors. Installing the detector in buildings, in particular domestic premises, will enhance fire safety by probing the onset of a blaze, giving occupants more time to evacuate, the department emphasised. It will launch promotional activities to explain to the public the benefits and use of the fire detectors. Guidelines on selection, installation and regular inspection will also be issued. In addition, through a pilot scheme, the fire detectors will be given out to people in need, such as seniors living alone or ethnic minorities. The department’s volunteer team will distribute and assist in installing the devices in target premises. They will also conduct home fire safety visits and provide information on domestic fire safety to residents.
Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng today officiated at the plaque unveiling ceremony for the Working Group on the Greater Bay Area Mediation Platform with legal department heads from Guangdong and Macau. The working group was established by the legal departments of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau. Ms Cheng officiated the event with Guangdong Department of Justice Director-General Chen Xudong and Macao SAR Government Secretary for Administration & Justice Cheong Weng Chon. The working group held its inaugural meeting after the ceremony. During the meeting, qualification and accreditation standards for mediators in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, best practices for mediators' code of conduct, and guidelines for mediation rules applicable to cross-boundary disputes were discussed. Ms Cheng said that the Greater Bay Area has been developing rapidly since the promulgation of the Outline Development Plan for the bay area. As the only common law jurisdiction within the country, Hong Kong can utilise the unique advantages under "one country, two systems and three jurisdictions" in the bay area, providing quality, effective and convenient legal services in the area in accordance with the development blueprint mapped out in the 14th Five-Year Plan. She noted that during the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area Legal Departments Joint Conference held last year, the three places endorsed the Proposal to set up the Greater Bay Area Mediation Platform as a co-operation platform for promoting mediation work, to enable better use of mediation by the business sector and the public in the area. The working group will continue to actively promote the platform's work.