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Customs said that all service members must adopt the protocols of the Chinese-style foot drill for ceremonial events, passing-out parades and other occasions while in uniform as it fully implemented this style of foot drill from today. It noted that today is May Fourth Youth Day, an important day for the country to commemorate the May Fourth Movement which gave rise to the emergence of the spirit focusing on patriotism, progress, democracy and science, with patriotism at the core. Customs explained that it chose to fully adopt the Chinese-style foot drill on this meaningful day to show its strong commitment to continuous improvement and express the sense of belonging to and patriotic feelings for the country. The implementation of the Chinese-style foot drill also demonstrates the department's national sentiment and patriotic feelings for the country while showcasing the demeanour of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region's disciplined services, it added. Customs has progressively adopted the Chinese-style foot drill in training, ceremonial events and passing-out parades in recent years. This style of foot drill not only enhances the attractiveness of the entire performance, but also helps in better integrating the department into the governance system of the country and enriching the practice of "one country, two systems", it pointed out. The department also expressed sincere gratitude to the Chinese People's Liberation Army Hong Kong Garrison for providing Chinese-style foot drill training to its officers and valuable advice on adopting the foot drill in various ceremonial events.
Mediation Week 2022 was launched today to promote the use of mediation via a series of thematic events and the Mediation Conference 2022. Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng remarked that it is ideally to nurture the culture of mediation amongst students who will appreciate the importance and the usefulness of mediation skills in resolving conflicts amicably. She noted that this is vital to maintain their personal relationships and ultimately contribute to the building of a harmonious community. Organised by the Department of Justice, the five-day programme was kicked off by the School Mediation Seminar & 5th Hong Kong Secondary School Peer Mediation Competition Final this morning. During the armchair discussion part of the seminar, speakers with extensive experience in peer mediation explored the common disputes among students that were suitable for mediation and how peer mediation could be used to prevent escalation of school disputes from the perspectives of mediator, lawyer, teacher and social worker. As regards the competition final, students became young aspiring mediators and displayed their peer mediation skills under the spotlight. True Light Girls’ College were crowned the competition champions.
The Mediation Week 2022 organised by the Department of Justice will be held in the first week of May (from May 2 to 6). It features the Mediation Conference 2022 and a series of thematic events to promote the use of mediation in resolving a multitude of disputes in an effective and amicable manner. The theme of this year’s Mediation Week is “Mediate First – Harmony from Now to Beyond”. The events will showcase how mediation can preserve harmony in dispute resolution in different sectors both locally and internationally, and its potentials in resolving disputes in novel developments such as virtual reality. To kick off the Mediation Week, we have a group of young aspiring mediators who will display their mediation skills under the Secondary School Peer Mediation Competition. I believe that the culture of mediation should be nurtured amongst students in order to let them appreciate the importance and the usefulness of mediation skills as life skills. Mastering the skills of resolving conflicts cordially is also vital to maintain their personal relationships and ultimately contribute to the building of a harmonious community. On a more local level, there are thematic events exploring how mediation can be applicable in family disputes, as well as in the school and medical setting. There will also be a seminar on the new Integrated Mediation Office (West Kowloon) of the Judiciary with a sharing session on mediation in Small Claims Tribunal cases. On an international level, the UNCITRAL Working Group III on ISDS Reform - Forum for Further Preparatory Work on Investment Mediation will explore specific key issues relating to the proposed model clauses and guidelines on investment mediation. The Mediation Conference 2022, being the highlight of the Mediation Week and a celebration event of the 25th Anniversary of the Establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, will be held on May 6. We are honoured to have invited prominent international and local experts and practitioners to share their insights on the recent developments of mediation. The conference will cover topics including exploring the possibility of a reciprocal recognition and enforcement mechanism for family mediated settlement agreements in the Greater Bay Area in light of the mechanism under the new Mainland Judgments in Matrimonial & Family Cases (Reciprocal Recognition & Enforcement) Ordinance. Panelists will explore how and why mediation may be the better way to resolve COVID-19 related disputes. Last but not least, we will also take a glance at the “metaverse”, which has been the talk of the town these few years, by illustrating the possible legal issues behind, what may cause disputes to arise and how mediation may be the most suited means for resolving such disputes. As an amicable and cost-effective means to effectively resolve conflicts, mediation is one of the common modes of alternative dispute resolution. It is conducive to the promotion of the rule of law through the provision of efficient and effective dispute resolution mechanisms. We will continue to roll out other programmes to promote the rule of law, including the Rule of Law Enlightenment programme under the Vision 2030 for Rule of Law initiative. I am pleased to announce that a very special guest will join us at the award presentation ceremony of the “Key to the Future” Short Video Competition for secondary school students on May 7. Please follow our dedicated webpage and stay tuned! Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng wrote this article and posted it on her blog on April 30.
Customs today signed memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with the Content Overseas Distribution Association (CODA) in Japan and the Copyright Overseas promotion Association (COA) in Korea to pledge further collaboration in combating intellectual property rights (IPR) infringement. As today is World Intellectual Property Day, Assistant Commissioner of Customs & Excise (Intelligence & Investigation) Mark Woo signed MoUs by videoconferencing with CODA Representative Director Takero Goto and COA Executive Director Itae Choi. The pacts signify the mutual commitment and determination of Hong Kong and these two countries on IPR protection through strengthening various areas of co-operation, such as joint promotional activities, training and information exchange. Mr Woo said at the signing ceremony that in addition to law enforcement, Customs has attached great importance to maintaining close co-operation with copyright and trademark owners in promoting IPR education, especially among the younger generation. The MoUs signed today also mark a significant milestone along the course of ongoing collaboration between Customs and the IPR sector, he added.
Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police Chow Yat-ming will succeed Kwok Yam-shu as Deputy Commissioner of Police from this Thursday upon Mr Kwok’s retirement, the Police Force announced today. Mr Chow joined the force as an Inspector in 1995. He was promoted to Superintendent in 2010, Senior Superintendent in 2013 and Chief Superintendent in 2016. Upon promotion to Assistant Commissioner in 2020, Mr Chow took charge of the Operations Wing and later the Personnel Wing. In January 2021, he became Senior Assistant Commissioner of the force.
Introduction Our criminal justice system plays a pivotal role by ensuring that crimes are effectively detected and investigated, and criminal cases are handled impartially and efficiently, whilst protecting the rights of all parties involved in the process. Recently there have been groundless criticisms against our criminal justice system and I would like to take this opportunity to set the record straight. Charges of offences endangering national security not vague Baseless allegations of vague charges of offences under the National Security Law (NSL) or other offences endangering national security under local laws have been made. As pointed out on various occasions, the NSL clearly specifies the elements of each offence, including the requisite acts (actus reus) and intent (mens rea). Under the common law system, the courts may further clarify the elements of an offence in adjudicating cases. For instance, in the Tong Ying-kit case1, the Court of Final Appeal has explained the elements of the offences of incitement to secession and terrorist activities. The court’s reasons for the verdict are freely accessible online. Besides, in our criminal justice system, there are avenues for defendants to request further and better particulars of a charge and to complain about defects of a charge2. All procedural challenges will be duly considered and adjudicated fairly by the court. Reporting restrictions in respect of pre-trial proceedings such as bail proceedings and committal proceedings are in place under existing laws (such as the Criminal Procedure Ordinance and the Magistrates Ordinance) to safeguard the fairness and integrity of the eventual trial. Notwithstanding the reporting restrictions, the relevant proceedings are nevertheless conducted in open court which members of the public and the media may attend and observe. Defendants may apply to the court for lifting of the reporting restrictions, which will be considered and adjudicated by the court, striking a balance between the defendants’ rights and other aspects of the public interest including that of a fair trial. Bail application in cases concerning offences endangering national security handled fairly In respect of bail, the Court of Final Appeal in the Lai Chee-ying case stressed the cardinal importance of the primary purpose of the NSL, which explains why there are more stringent conditions to the grant of bail in relation to offences endangering national security. The court also took the view that decisions as to whether or not to grant bail, involving a predictive and evaluative exercise, are a “juridical exercise carried out by the court as an exercise in judgment or evaluation, not the application of a burden of proof”3. There are other common law jurisdictions (such as Canada, South Africa and Australia) where, in respect of certain classes of offences, not only is there no burden of proof on the prosecution to establish grounds for refusing bail, but a burden is placed on the accused to establish why continued detention, rather than release on bail, is not justified4. Furthermore, in some jurisdictions, the executive authorities are vested with powers to impose detention for long periods without charge in order to prevent acts endangering national security. For instance, the Internal Security Act of Singapore creates substantial executive powers for the president to authorise detention without charge for a period of up to two years (which is renewable) on grounds of national security. This rules out bail completely, too. Judicial review of such decisions taken under the act is precluded except only to ensure compliance with procedural requirements. Contrary to the general misinformation that defendants charged with offences endangering national security are all denied bail because of the NSL, it is a matter of fact that a number of defendants have been released on bail after the courts duly considered the requirements stipulated in the NSL and relevant local laws. For example, as reported by the media, some defendants, including former legislators, who were charged with conspiracy to commit subversion, are currently released on court bail5. Law enforcement powers exercised in accordance with law In discharging duties, law enforcement authorities are authorised to exercise certain powers in order to facilitate their investigations. For example, they may apply to the court to obtain production orders or restraint orders under the Organised & Serious Crimes Ordinance for the purposes of investigating into an organised crime or preventing dissipation of property by criminal suspects. Such orders may be made on an ex parte application to a judge in chambers. The ex parte procedure for the authorisation of investigatory powers is necessary so as to prevent suspects from destroying evidence, dissipating proceeds of crime or committing other acts to obstruct investigation or pervert the course of justice, and is a common practice in many jurisdictions. There are provisions in the Implementation Rules for Article 43 of the NSL to enable the law enforcement authorities to take similar measures when handling cases concerning offences endangering national security. Nonetheless, our criminal justice system allows a party who is affected by the court order to apply to have it set aside or varied. The court, having reviewed all evidence, will adjudicate strictly in accordance with the applicable law in an impartial manner. Trials held in timely manner Generally speaking, a criminal case will first be brought up in a Magistrates’ Court after a charge has been laid. In the majority of cases, at the first appearance, the prosecution will ask for no plea to be taken because further investigation by the law enforcement authorities or other preparations for the case is required. When no plea is taken, the case will be adjourned for further hearing(s) until the parties inform the court that they are ready to proceed to trial. The Department of Justice maintains close contact with the law enforcement authorities to ensure that cases are handled expeditiously and effectively. We will proactively explore and follow up on ways to expedite case management, such as seeking consolidation of cases where facts and evidence permit, agreeing on facts and evidence with the defence before trial as far as possible to reduce the number of witnesses to be called and hence, the length of trial. However, it should be noted that the time taken between the institution of prosecution and the trial of each case depends on a multitude of factors, such as whether further investigation is required, whether the defendant needs time to obtain legal advice for consideration of his or her plea and to engage in plea negotiation with the prosecution, whether the defence requires certification of translated documents or makes any pre-trial application such as applications for further and better particulars, disclosure, lifting of reporting restrictions, severance of case with multiple defendants, preliminary inquiry, discharge, etc. It must be stressed that all applications are handled in accordance with established procedures and due process is fully observed. If a defendant, upon legal advice or otherwise, decides to make every possible procedural application irrespective of merits, he or she cannot at the same time conjure any complaint about delay which is only the natural consequence of exercising his or her entitlements to the fullest possible extent in a fair criminal justice system. Duty of counsel As guaranteed by the law, Hong Kong residents shall have the right to confidential legal advice, access to the courts, choice of lawyers for timely protection of their lawful rights and interests or for representation in the courts, and to judicial remedies. Meanwhile, our legal fraternity (including overseas admitted to full practice in Hong Kong) shoulders the primary responsibility for upholding the rule of law by performing their duty professionally whilst observing the rules of professional conduct. In carrying out their duty, the personal safety of legal practitioners, like all other individuals, is well protected by law. This fundamental safeguard ensures that they should act professionally without fear or favour. Party in a litigation or their legal representatives, in the event of being intimidated, should report to Police with all the available evidence. Needless to say, one must refrain from knowingly deceiving or misleading the court or the police or indeed the public by false accusations, as such conduct not only harms the reputation of the legal profession the individual belongs, but may risk breaching the law. Conclusion Hong Kong is renowned for having a fair and mature criminal justice system. Our legislation is drafted with clarity and certainty, complemented by reasoned judgments to develop a respected jurisprudence. Legal principles and procedures in respect of granting bail and other court orders are clearly set out in our laws and duly followed in court. Defendants are entitled to exercise their rights in making procedural applications which, although possibly prolonging legal proceedings, is a price that will have to be paid so that the defendants’ choice of exercising their legitimate rights are respected and protected. Having said that, the department has taken every possible measure with a view to expediting the prosecution process and ensuring justice is served. Hence, suggestions that there are vague charges, that no defendants are granted bail, or that the delays in trial were caused by the prosecution, are plainly unsustainable once the actual facts are reviewed. The principle of prosecutorial independence by the department is constitutionally guaranteed. Article 63 of the Basic Law stipulates that the department shall control criminal prosecutions, free from any interference. Not only our prosecutors act independently, I trust all members of the legal fraternity would discharge their duties professionally and honestly without fear or favour, and to uphold the fair and independent criminal justice system. Notes: HKSAR v Tong Ying-kit [2021] HKCFI 2200 See rule 3 of the Indictment Rules (Cap. 221C) which provides that “every indictment shall contain …such particulars as may be necessary for giving reasonable information as to the nature of the charge”, and “a judge may order further particulars of an offence stated in an indictment to be delivered in any case in which he deems it expedient to do so”. HKSAR v Lai Chee-ying (2021) 24 HKCFAR 33, [2021] HKCFA 3, at paras. 62 and 68. See the examples mentioned in HKSAR v Lai Chee Ying (2021) 24 HKCFAR 33, [2021] HKCFA 3, at para. 69. For example, see HCCP 113/2021 and HCCP 473/2021.  Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng wrote this article and posted it on her blog on April 15.
Police's National Security Department today, after an in-depth investigation, arrested a 54-year-old man in Kwai Chung for conspiracy to publish seditious publications, contravening Section 9 and 10 of the Crimes Ordinance. The man is being detained for further enquiries. Police said an investigation is underway and further arrests may be made.
The Immigration Department will implement a new facilitation measure from tomorrow to allow eligible non-permanent residents who are outside Hong Kong to apply for an extension of stay. At present, people applying for an extension of stay must be physically present in Hong Kong at the time of application as well as collection of the e-Visa or the traditional label for an extension of stay. The new measure aims to further facilitate Hong Kong non-permanent residents who are outside the city and are unable to return in time to apply for an extension of stay under the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting April 8, eligible non-permanent residents who are admitted into Hong Kong under nine immigration policies or schemes, whose limit of stay will expire within four weeks but are presently outside Hong Kong, may apply for an extension of stay under the new measure. They may submit the applications online or through their sponsors or authorised representatives in Hong Kong. The new measure will tentatively expire on December 31. The department will review whether to extend the measure in due course. For enquiries, call 2824 6111, send a fax to 2877 7711 or send an email.
The Immigration Department today announced that the Secretary for Security has made an amendment order to revise the call-up programme for people born in 1954 or before, 1983 to 84 and 1987 to 2000 to apply for a new smart identity card. It said all smart identity card replacement centres will resume full services from tomorrow, adding that the revision aims to enable affected people to replace their Hong Kong identity cards in an orderly manner. The amendment order will be tabled at the Legislative Council on April 27 for negative vetting. The department noted that having regard to the COVID-19 epidemic situation and the progress of the identity card replacement exercise, the period for people born in 1983, 1984, 1987 and 1988 to apply for a new identity card was extended and the call-up programme for those born in 1954 or before and 1989 to 2000 was also revised under the amendment order. Citizens do not need to rush to the centres at the beginning of service resumption to replace their identity cards. They can make appointments for the replacement during the revised call-up period. To avoid crowds gathering, the department appealed to people to make bookings online, via its mobile app or by calling the 24-hour hotline 2121 1234. Visit the website or call 2824 6111 for enquiries.
Police's National Security Department arrested four men and two women aged between 32 and 67 in Tin Hau, Mong Kok, Ngau Tau Kok, Tsuen Wan, Sheung Shui and Cheung Chau on suspicion of committing an act or acts with seditious intention, contravening the Crimes Ordinance. The arrested people are being detained for further enquiries. They are suspected of having purposely caused a nuisance during their attendance for hearing in different courts, including the High Court, the West Kowloon Magistrates' Courts and the Eastern Magistrates' Courts, between December 2021 and January 2022. These acts severely affected jurisdictional dignity and court operations. Police also conducted searches at the arrested people's residences with a court warrant. A number of items in suspected connection with the case, including records of conspiracy to cause a nuisance in the courts, were seized. Police reminded the public that doing an act or acts with seditious intention to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the administration of justice in Hong Kong is a serious crime. Offenders shall be liable to imprisonment for two years.