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2020

16/06/2020
Police today urged members of the public to avoid joining unauthorised assemblies and prohibited group gatherings. The force said that an organiser had filed a notification to hold a public meeting and procession on Hong Kong Island this afternoon. It regarded the public meeting and procession to be high-risk activities, adding that any group gatherings taking place during the ongoing pandemic can increase the risk of spreading COVID-19. To maintain public order and safety, and protect the rights and freedom of others, Police had issued a letter of objection to the organiser. The force reiterated that anyone participating in such events may be found guilty of taking part in an unauthorised assembly in accordance with the Public Order Ordinance and liable to a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment. By engaging in such events, people may also violate the prohibition of group gatherings under the Prevention & Control of Disease (Prohibition on Group Gathering) Regulation, the force said. Police stressed that they do not condone illegal acts and will take resolute action to enforce the law. Additionally, such unauthorised assemblies and prohibited group gatherings will likely cause serious obstruction to traffic on Hong Kong Island, potentially leading to delays in emergency services, Police said. The force will take into consideration different traffic conditions and implement temporary route diversions as well as traffic control measures accordingly.
15/06/2020
The Government today announced the mechanism for legal practitioners providing necessary professional services in relation to important and large-scale commercial transactions to apply for exemption from the compulsory quarantine arrangement. The Department of Justice (DoJ) has started processing applications. Legal practitioners should submit the completed application form with all required supporting documents to the DoJ by email. Under the Compulsory Quarantine of Certain Persons Arriving at Hong Kong Regulation, the Chief Secretary may designate any person or category of people for exemption from the quarantine arrangement if their travelling is necessary for purposes relating to the provision of professional services in the interest of Hong Kong's economic development. The Chief Secretary has recently exempted qualified legal practitioners who travel from the Mainland, Macau or Taiwan to Hong Kong to provide legal services that require on-site physical presence in relation to important and large-scale commercial transactions from compulsory quarantine. Legal practitioners who return to Hong Kong from the Mainland, Macau or Taiwan after provision of legal services that require on-site physical presence in relation to such transactions are also exempted. After arriving in Hong Kong, the exempted person will be subject to medical surveillance arranged by the Department of Health for 14 days. Currently, travellers to the Mainland and Macau would still be subject to the 14-day compulsory quarantine requirement imposed by authorities in those places. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government is discussing with Mainland and Macau authorities about mutual recognition of COVID-19 testing results conducted by recognised medical laboratories to exempt the quarantine requirement for Hong Kong travellers to those places. Click here for details.
14/06/2020
Many have made their suggestions to the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in respect of the work by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC) and some made their points or letters public. Last Friday, I noticed one of the bodies representing a branch of the legal profession made some suggestions in an open statement. Yet the proprietary or feasibility of such opinions or suggestions must be viewed in context of the legal and constitutional structure of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and with the proper background and understanding of the nature of the decision and the legislation to be enacted. Pursuant to the authorisation set out in Article 6 of the decision passed by the National People’s Congress (NPC) on May 28, the national security law is to be enacted by the NPCSC, and after consulting the Basic Law Committee and the Government of the Hong Kong SAR, it will be added to Annex III of the Basic Law to be promulgated by the Hong Kong SAR and applicable to the Hong Kong SAR. It will also be in Annex III and part of the Basic Law of the Hong Kong SAR. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has two legal systems, the civil law system and the common law system. It is impracticable and unreasonable to expect that everything in a national law, the national security law, will be exactly as what a statute in the Hong Kong SAR common law jurisdiction would be like. Yet of course, the legislation should be clear and understood in the Hong Kong SAR. As I have stated on many occasions with various media, there are a number of commonalities between the civil and common law systems respectively in the Mainland and the Hong Kong SAR, such as retrospectivity, presumption of innocence, burden of proof and standard of proof, legal certainty etc. This point was similarly made with more details on PRC law, by the Deputy Director of the Hong Kong & Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, Mr Zhang Xiaoming, in his speech on June 8 in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the promulgation of the Basic Law. His speech and that of the Vice-Chairperson of the Hong Kong SAR Basic Law Committee under the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, Mr Zhang Yong, are available here. Discussions generated on a sunset clause are also interesting. The NPCSC has the power to add or delete from the list of laws in Annex III after consulting the Basic Law Committee and the Government of the Hong Kong SAR, and as such there is indeed no need for what has been described as a “sunset clause”. To properly embark on such discussions, it may be useful to remember that the national security law to be enacted by the NPCSC is a national legislation providing for the legal framework and enforcement mechanism from a national level. In Article 3 of the decision of the NPC, it also stated that the Hong Kong SAR should as soon as possible complete the legislation that has to be done for national security in accordance with the requirements of the Basic Law. Such legislation to be passed in the Hong Kong SAR will be dealing with national security from the perspective of the SAR and may well not be the complete ambit of national security that affects 1.4 billion people. In summary, the decision of the NPC and the enactment of the legislation by the NPCSC for inclusion in Annex III of the Basic Law to be promulgated by the Hong Kong SAR are premised on constitutional and legal grounds. The circumstances facing Hong Kong and indeed as more clearly evidenced by the uncalled for reactions of some countries really reinforce the need and urgency for the same. Finally, it was stated clearly in the decision, “safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests, upholding and improving the ‘one country, two systems’ regime, maintaining the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong, and safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of Hong Kong residents.” Therefore, the legislation to be enacted for the Hong Kong SAR only aims to prevent, curb and sanction an extremely small minority of criminals who threaten national security, so as to safeguard the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and the implementation of "one country, two systems". Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng wrote this article and posted it on her blog on June 14.
12/06/2020
Police today urged the public not to take part in unauthorised assemblies and prohibited group gatherings. The appeal came as some people have called on members of the public to participate in public events in multiple districts throughout Hong Kong tonight. Police reiterated that anyone who participates in such events may be found guilty of taking part in an unauthorised assembly in accordance with the Public Order Ordinance and liable to a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment. They emphasised that engaging in public gatherings will also increase the risk of transmission of the virus in the community and those doing so may commit certain offences under the Prevention & Control of Disease (Prohibition on Group Gathering) Regulation. Police stressed they do not condone any illegal or violent acts and will take resolute action to enforce the law, including making arrests.
12/06/2020
The National Anthem Ordinance was published in the Gazette and came into effect today. The Government said the core legislative principle of the ordinance is to promote respect for the national anthem, which is the symbol and sign of the country, and provide guidance on the standard, etiquette and occasions for playing and singing the national anthem.  It prohibits and imposes penalties for the misuse of the national anthem or its lyrics or score, and public and intentional acts to insult the song. There is no cause for concern of breaching the law inadvertently if one does not misuse the national anthem or its lyrics or score, nor has any public and intentional act to insult the song, the Government said. The Government added it will strengthen publicity and educational efforts of the national anthem. It has set up a dedicated webpage to inform the public about the content of the ordinance and provide the standard scores and official recordings of the song for occasions during which it must be played and sung. It will also launch promotional videos on social media platforms, government websites and electronic media. Meanwhile, the Education Bureau will update its learning and teaching materials to educate students on the history and spirit of the national anthem and the etiquette for playing and singing the song. The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress added the Law of the People's Republic of China on National Anthem to Annex III to the Basic Law on November 4, 2017. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government has fulfilled its constitutional responsibility to implement the National Anthem Law locally in accordance with Article 18 of the Basic Law.
12/06/2020
Police have arrested 35 people for taking part in unlawful assemblies in several districts this evening. The 24 men and 11 women were arrested for offences including wounding, unlawful assembly, participating in an unauthorised assembly, disorder in public places and possession of offensive weapons. Crowds gathered and behaved in a disorderly manner in Causeway Bay, Yuen Long, Mong Kok and Kwun Tong. Some of the participants threw hard objects from a height in Shantung Street, Mong Kok with police officers as their assault targets. After repeated warnings went unheard, officers conducted dispersal and arrest operations. Police made it clear they do not condone any illegal violent acts and will take resolute law enforcement action against anyone who commits illegal acts. 
11/06/2020
The Security Bureau has made preparations for the national security law to be enforced in Hong Kong, Secretary for Security John Lee said today. Mr Lee told reporters after attending the Legislative Council meeting that the responsible law enforcement agency must be prepared once the law is enacted in the city and that such preparations include securing ample manpower. He said: "We will have to wait for the law to be written and then promulgated and then we will know what exactly the law will say. "But it is important for the law enforcement agency to get prepared now with the number of people to be ready to discharge their duties as required by the law. It is because once the law is promulgated, then it becomes effective law. So the responsible law enforcement agency will have to get prepared now." Mr Lee emphasised that he is confident Police will quickly develop the skills and knowledge needed to enforce the law and explained that recruitment of new personnel will be based on needs. "The number of people will have to be decided according to the need. We are making preparations but we have to look at the exact law, to see what will be required of the law enforcement agencies to do, so as to actually decide on the number of people. "As regards preparation, we have already been starting to look into what personal qualities, what experience will be required of the people who will be working in this new set-up unit." Besides setting up a new unit, Police will launch training to ensure officers are prepared to enforce the new law, he said. "We of course will be liaising with counterparts in the Mainland, to see how training can be done with their assistance. In fact in the same way as the Police go about counter-terrorism, the Police will be making opportunities to learn from counterparts overseas. “So they will have of course a lot of things to do but I have good faith in their ability to discharge their function effectively." Mr Lee added that the Government will explain more details once the national security law is made public.
11/06/2020
The total number of reported drug abusers fell 13% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2020, the Action Committee Against Narcotics (ACAN) announced today. However, the committee noted that the figure might have been affected by the COVID-19 situation, as reporting agencies might have come into contact with fewer drug abusers due to the pandemic. According to Central Registry of Drug Abuse (CRDA) figures, the total number of drug abusers for the first quarter of the year was 1,896, while the number of drug abusers aged under 21 fell 15% to 138 compared with the same period last year. Figures showed that the total number of reported narcotic analgesic abusers increased 5% to 1,128 year-on-year. The total number of reported psychotropic substance abusers also fell 27% to 969 for the period. Heroin remained the most common type of drug abused, with the number of reported abusers increasing 5% year-on-year to 1,126. The number of reported cannabis abusers decreased 13% year-on-year to 159. For reported young drug abusers aged below 21, cannabis remained the most popular type of psychotropic substance abused, although the number of abusers decreased 14% to 62 year-on-year. “As revealed by the figures of the CRDA, cannabis abuse among young people calls for attention. Parents are encouraged to learn and understand the harm of cannabis together with their children,” ACAN Chairman Dr Ben Cheung said. With the summer holiday approaching, the Narcotics Division and ACAN will step up anti-drug publicity on the harm of cannabis and the importance to resist its temptations. 
10/06/2020
Police today urged the public not to participate in unauthorised assemblies and prohibited group gatherings. Police issued the statement after noticing that some people have been calling on the public to take part in an unauthorised assembly under the pretext of a religious gathering on Hong Kong Island on June 12. The force pointed out that not all religious activities are exempted from the Prevention & Control of Disease (Prohibition on Group Gathering) Regulation. They explained that gatherings during a religious activity are exempted only if held at premises constructed or regularly used as a place of worship. Police reiterated that anyone participating in such events may be found guilty of taking part in an unauthorised assembly in accordance with the Public Order Ordinance and liable to a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment. They emphasised that engaging in public gatherings will also increase the risk of transmission of the virus in the community and those doing so may commit certain offences under the Prevention & Control of Disease (Prohibition on Group Gathering) Regulation. Police stressed that they will deploy adequate manpower in relevant locations and take resolute action to enforce the law, including making arrests. Additionally, Police noted that a large group of protesters behaved in a disorderly manner and blocked roads while gathered in Central last night. In the small hours, Police arrested 53 people, consisting of 36 males and 17 females, for unlawful assembly and participating in an unauthorised assembly.
09/06/2020
Police today urged the public not to participate in unauthorised assemblies and prohibited group gatherings. Police issued the statement after noticing that some netizens have been calling on the public to take part in unauthorised assemblies on Hong Kong Island tonight. The force reiterated that anyone participating in such events may be found guilty of taking part in an unauthorised assembly in accordance with the Public Order Ordinance and liable to a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment. They emphasised that engaging in public gatherings will also increase the risk of transmission of the virus in the community and may commit certain offences under the Prevention & Control of Disease (Prohibition on Group Gathering) Regulation. Police believe that such unauthorised assemblies and prohibited group gatherings will likely cause serious obstruction to traffic on Hong Kong Island, potentially leading to delays in emergency services. They will take into consideration different traffic conditions and implement temporary route diversion as well as traffic control measures accordingly. Road users should watch out for any incidents that may occur in different districts and avoid affected areas, while drivers should follow instructions given by police officers and steer clear of dangerous areas. Police will conduct risk assessments and cordon off the Legislative Council Road, Lung Wui Road, Tamar Park, the footbridge connecting the Admiralty Centre and the Central Government Offices, as well as the footbridge connecting CITIC Tower, when necessary. The force also noted that some rioters have been inciting others on the Internet to attack police officers using petrol bombs in an attempt to force Police to deploy tear gas. Police strongly condemn such malicious and irresponsible messages that encourage the use of violence, adding that they do not condone any violent acts. Police stressed that they will deploy adequate manpower in relevant locations and take resolute action to enforce the law, including making arrests.

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