LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 1755/96-97
(The minutes have been seen
by the Administration)
Ref. : CB2/PL/SE/1
LegCo Panel on Security
Minutes of Meeting
held on Monday, 9 December 1996 at 10:45 am
in the Chamber of the Legislative Council Building
Members present :
Hon James TO Kun-sun (Chairman)
Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, OBE, JP (Deputy Chairman)
Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
Hon Zachary WONG Wai-yin
Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
Hon IP Kwok-him
Hon LO Suk-ching
Hon Margaret NG
Hon TSANG Kin-shing
Hon Lawrence YUM Sin-ling
Members absent :
Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
Public Officers attending :
- Agenda Item III
- Mrs Carrie YAU
- Deputy Secretary for Security
- Mr Clement LEUNG
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Security (A)
- Agenda Item IV
- Ms Ingrid HO
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Security (C)
- Mr LAI Tung-kwok
- Principal Immigration Officer (Visa Control)
- Agenda Item V
- Mr Philip CHAN
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Security (E)
- Mr M W HORNER
- Assistant Commissioner of Police (Crime) (Acting)
Royal Hong Kong Police Force
- Dr Y M LEUNG
- Assistant Director of Education
(Curriculum Development Institute)
- Mrs Agnes LI
- Chief Social Work Officer (Family & Child Welfare) (Acting)
Social Welfare Department
- Agenda Item VI
- Mr Philip CHAN
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Security (E)
- Mr K H CHING
- Director of Management Services
Royal Hong Kong Police Force
- Mr M P MAK
- Assistant Commissioner of Police (Service Quality) (Acting)
Royal Hong Kong Police Force
Clerk in attendance :
- Mrs Sharon TONG
- Chief Assistant Secretary (2) 1
Staff in attendance :
- Miss Salumi CHAN
- Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 1
The Chairman proposed and members agreed to swap agenda items 1 and 2 to facilitate discussion with the Administration on two garrison related topics. Representatives from the Administration were then invited to join the discussion on agenda items for the next meeting.
I. Date of next meeting and items for discussion
(LegCo paper No. CB(2) 622/96/97(01))
2. Ms Emily LAU Wai-hing asked if the Administration could report on the progress concerning "permanent residency after 1997". Deputy Secretary for Security said that there was not much progress since the issue was being discussed in the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group (JLG). She undertook to report to the Panel once both sides had agreed on the issue. She also undertook to follow up on reply to questions raised at the meeting on 28 October 1996. After discussion, members agreed to discuss the following items at the next Panel meeting to be held on 13 January 1997 at 10:45am:
- Establishment of a Statutory Board of Review, Long Term Prison Sentences;
- Commission of crimes by illegal immigrants; and
- Security measures for the handover ceremony and protection for the Chief Executive (designate) of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
II. Matters arising - way forward on submissions received on the draft Garrison Law
3. Members agreed that the submission on the draft Garrison Law from the Democratic Party, the Frontier, the Law Society of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Bar Association should be forwarded directly to the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National Peoples Congress and the Chairman of the Central Military Commission. They considered that the minutes of the special meeting held on 3 December 1996 to receive deputations on the draft law should also be sent. The Chairman asked the Administration to convey the submissions to the Chinese government where appropriate.
(Post meeting note : The submissions were sent to the Chairman of the Central Military Commission and the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National Peoples Congress on 10 December 1996. The minutes of the special meeting was sent to them on 20 December 1996.)
III. Follow-up on deployment of Mainland troops in Hong Kong
(LegCo paper No. CB(2) 622/96-97(02))
Definition of "arising out of and in the course of his duties"
4. In response to members queries, Principal Assistant Secretary for Security(A) clarified that cases in paragraph 4 of the paper were those outside the military jurisdiction. These cases involved members of the garrison in their private capacity and the alleged offences were not against any other member of the garrison. Under the law, these cases should be tried in Hong Kong courts. Cases in paragraph 6 were under the military jurisdiction. The Commanding Officer of the British Forces might waive military jurisdiction over a case as provided under the UK Forces (Jurisdiction of Colonial Courts) Order 1965 (1965 Order) and handed it to Hong Kong courts. Principal Assistant Secretary for Security(A) said that apart from minor cases, the Commanding Officer had waived military jurisdiction over a serious case on the ground of public interest. The case was a traffic accident involving two members of the garrison in the course of performing duties. Civilians were also involved in the accident and the two members of the garrison were alleged to have perverted the course of justice. The court later found them not guilty.
5. Members asked whether cases similar to those in paragraph 4 would be handled the same after 1 July 1997 according to the draft Garrison Law.
6. Principal Assistant Secretary for Security(A) advised that if a member of the garrison committed criminal offence under Hong Kong law, he would be tried in Hong Kong courts. However, under the 1965 Order, if the alleged offence was against another member of the garrison, or was against the property of the UK government or other garrison members, or arose out of and in the course of his duty, the case would be dealt with under military jurisdiction. Future arrangements would depend on the definition of "in the course of his duties" in the draft Garrison Law. Deputy Secretary for Security confirmed that the Administration had made proposals on the definition to the Chinese side. She further explained that due to different law drafting practices of the two sides, it was difficult to tell whether cases in paragraph 4 would be treated the same after 1997. But it seemed to be the intention of the draft Garrison Law that offences committed by members of the garrison not in the course of performing duties should be tried in Hong Kong courts. While the spirit was close to the existing system, the wordings in the draft provisions were not clear enough. Since Chinese law tended to provide for general principles, the Administration hoped that local legislation could be enacted to clarify provisions in the future Garrison Law for implementation.
7. Principal Assistant Secretary for Security(A) said that the Administration would decide on how to apply the Garrison Law after it was finalized. According to the Basic Law, national laws set out in Annex III should be applied to Hong Kong by way of promulgation or legislation by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR).
8. Mr Andrew CHENG Kar-foo noted that the garrison received more compensation than it paid out in civil cases relating to road traffic accidents in the past 10 years. He was concerned that the public might not dare to claim compensation from members of the garrison. He urged the Administration to educate the public in seeking compensation in civil cases involving members of the garrison.
9. Deputy Secretary for Security said that paragraph 9 of the paper gave figures in a factual manner and there was no particular reason for the pattern. Principal Assistant Secretary for Security(A) supplemented that compensation in civil cases was reached through administrative settlement. They would be dealt with by the claims department of the garrison. Parties concerned or their lawyers would negotiate with the claims department on the liability and the amount of compensation.
Legislation with references to the military
10. The Chairman asked if the legislation with references to the military was being adapted for the HKSAR.
11. Principal Assistant Secretary for Security(A) said the matter was being handled under the overall adaptation of laws exercise. The exercise was being handled by the Constitutional Affairs Branch which aimed to complete the task before 1 July 1997. While the Administration had proposed ways to adapt these provisions, discussion had to come after the two sides agreed on the modality for adaptation.
Criminal cases under military jurisdiction
12. In response to members queries, Principal Assistant Secretary for Security(A) clarified that cases in paragraphs 7 and 8 of the paper did not involve any civilian. There were seven cases tried by courts-marital in Hong Kong in the past three years. The 156 cases in paragraph 8 of the paper were minor offences dealt with at summary level.
Procedures in handling disputes over jurisdiction
13. Members asked whether there were any disputes over jurisdiction in criminal cases involving members of the garrison and how the public could challenge decisions on jurisdiction. They requested the Administration to explain the procedures in handling such disputes under the existing and future systems.
14. Principal Assistant Secretary for Security(A) said that lawyer of the military authority would discuss with the Legal Department to resolve disputes over jurisdiction. If the disputes could not be resolved, they would be referred to the Deputy Crown Prosecutor of Hong Kong Government in accordance with the Attorney Generals memorandum of 9 November 1965 (AGs memorandum). He said that there had not been a case referred to the Deputy Crown Prosecutor. Deputy Secretary for Security advised that Article 15 of the draft Garrison Law required the garrison and the HKSAR government to build up necessary linkages to deal with garrison related matters through consultation and co-operation. The provision was in Chapter 3 - the relationship between garrison stationed in Hong Kong and the HKSAR government. It did not prohibit settlement of disputes over jurisdiction in a manner similar to the existing practice. Deputy Secretary for Security hoped that the future garrison could agree to arrangements similar to those in the AGs memorandum. The Administration undertook to provide a copy of the AGs memorandum for members reference.
(Post meeting note : The AGs memorandum was provided to members under LegCo paper No. CB(2) 1161/96-97(04) which was a discussion paper for Agenda Item VI of the Security Panel meeting held on 14 February 1997.)
IV. Entry visa for Taiwan visitors
(LegCo paper No. CB(2) 622/96-97(03))
15. Principal Assistant Secretary for Security(C) briefed members on the proposal to extend the validity of multiple-journey entry visa for Taiwan residents from two years to three years. The visa was issued in the form of entry permit.
Visit permits for Taiwan officials and political figures
16. Members were concerned that while the Administration introduced measures to facilitate Taiwan citizens travelling to Hong Kong, it seemed to be tightening treatment towards Taiwan officials and Taiwanese with political background such as members of the Legislative Yuan. Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong cited complaints where some senior Taiwan officials responsible for Hong Kong and Macau affairs had never been successful in obtaining visit permit to Hong Kong. Others had only been able to get visit permits for single journey. He asked whether the Administration had discriminated against Taiwan officials and political figures and whether fear of pressure from China was one of the reasons for its discriminatory attitude. Mr Lawrence YUM Sin-ling cited another case where a member of the Legislative Yuan was unable to obtain visit permit for two to three years after he gave interviews to reporters during a private visit to Hong Kong. He wondered why members of the Legislative Yuan who were allowed to go to China were unable to obtain entry permits to come to Hong Kong. Members urged the Administration to clarify its policy on issuing visit permits to Taiwan officials and Taiwanese with political background and whether their applications would undergo special vetting.
17. Principal Assistant Secretary for Security(C) explained that the Administration did not assess applications on whether the applicants were officials or citizens. If Taiwan officials or political figures applied to come to Hong Kong on a private capacity, they should be able to get visit permits as other Taiwan tourists. Like all applicants, the Administration would require them to provide information such as the purpose of the trip. If they intended to come to Hong Kong for official business as officials of the Taiwanese Administration, they could not apply on a private capacity. If their purpose was to come to Hong Kong to participate in activities that the Taiwan administration considered as official, their applications would unlikely be successful. She undertook to supplement in writing the government policy on issuing visit permits to Taiwan officials and political figures.
Reciprocal arrangement for Hong Kong residents
18. Members asked if there were bilateral discussion on reciprocal arrangement for Hong Kong residents visiting Taiwan before and after 1997. They were also concerned if travel arrangement between Taiwan and Hong Kong and the proposal to extend validity of Taiwan visit permits would need Chinas approval in the JLG.
19. Principal Assistant Secretary for Security(C) said that the Administration did not recognize the Taiwan administration and did not have any contact with it. There was no plan to discuss with the Taiwan administration on visa arrangement. The Administration did not plan to reflect its view through other organizations since there was no sign that the arrangement for Hong Kong people travelling to Taiwan would be tightened. She said that the arrangement for Hong Kong people visiting Taiwan would be a matter for the Taiwan administration before and after 1997.
20. Principal Assistant Secretary for Security(C) confirmed that the arrangement for Taiwan residents visiting Hong Kong on a private capacity, the proposal to extend the validity of visit permits for Taiwan residents and changes in immigration matters were under the jurisdiction of the HKSAR government and did not need to be discussed in the JLG.
Processing time for visit permit applications
21. In response to members queries, Principal Immigration Officer (Visa Control) explained that a small number of applications might take longer than five working days to process. He cited the example where information given on the applications did not match the records kept by the Immigration Department. They needed to clarify information with the applicants in writing in these cases. In 1995-96, 97% of the applications were processed within five working days.
22. Whilst welcoming the proposal to extend the validity of visit permits, members wondered if the period could be longer than three years. In response, Principal Assistant Secretary for Security(C) explained that the Administration planned to further extend the validity of Taiwan visit permits. However, this could only be done after the technical problems had been solved such as the design of the visit permits and adjustment of computers.
V. Review of penalties for sexual offences
(LegCo paper No. CB(2) 622/96-97(04))
Support services for victims
23. Principal Assistant Secretary for Security(E) briefed members on the proposals to tackle sexual offences and the improved procedures in handling such cases.
24. Mrs Selina CHOW urged the Administration to improve support services for sexual offence victims, such as providing counselling at the conclusion of a case. She also suggested the Administration to obtain views of victims on how the support system during counselling could be improved.
25. Assistant Commissioner of Police (Crime) (Acting) undertook to pursue Mrs CHOWs proposal with the Social Welfare Department (SWD). At the moment, the Police would refer victims to the Family Services Centre of SWD at the occurrence of cases and would keep in contact with the victims. Chief Social Work Officer (Family & Child Welfare) (Acting) supplemented that social workers would follow-up on child victims of sexual offences. They were willing to provide services to adult victims and would provide services to victims referred by the Police.
26. Principal Assistant Secretary for Security(E) said that the Administration planned to introduce legislation on the proposals to tackle sexual offences in the current LegCo session. Drafting of the bill was underway and members views would be taken into consideration.
Court sentencing and gravity of offences
27. Members were concerned whether court sentencing on offenders of indecent assault was heavier than that before the penalty level was revised in 1991. Principal Assistant Secretary for Security(E) said that the Attorney General would appeal if the sentencing did not reflect the gravity of offences. He undertook to provide figures and analysis on the relationship between court sentencing and gravity of offences.
Reporting of sexual offences
28. Members asked if sexual offences such as indecent assault and incest were more prevalent in public housing estates and if rising number of sexual offences was due to increasing prevalence of the crime or due to increasing incidence of reporting. Assistant Commissioner of Police (Crime) (Acting) said that with increased publicity and improved reporting procedures, victims were more willing to report the crime than before. He undertook to provide detailed statistics on the geographical distribution and reporting pattern of sexual offences. Chief Social Work Officer (Family & Child Welfare) (Acting) added that SWD had launched a publicity campaign on the prevention of child sexual abuse in 1996-97, focusing on teaching young children to protect themselves against sexual abuse and promoting the awareness of parents and carers of the problem.
Penalty for incest offenders
29. Members were concerned that incest was increasing rapidly with 11 cases committed during the first 10 months in 1996 as compared to an average of six to seven cases in the past few years. They considered the Administrations proposal to double the maximum penalty from seven years to 14 years for incest by men with girls at 13 or above was not severe enough to deter the crime. Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong suggested the Administration to adopt a penalty structure similar to that in clauses 123 and 124 of the Crime Ordinance (Cap. 200) for unlawful sexual intercourse. The penalty for incest should be stratified according to the age of victims - one tier for incest with girls below 13, another tier for incest with girls between 13 and 16 and a third tier for incest with girls above 16. The penalty for incest with girls between 13 and 16 should be heavier than that with girls over 16.
30. Principal Assistant Secretary for Security(E) agreed that incest was more traumatic than other sexual offences and it was a crime that the community was concerned about. He undertook to consider Mr CHEUNGs proposal. Assistant Commissioner of Police (Crime) (Acting) supplemented that teenage girls were the most vulnerable group for rape and indecent assault. About 30% of the victims were students and 16% were school drop-outs or unemployed. Various departments such as SWD and the Education Department (ED) would identify ways to increase awareness among students against such crimes. Assistant Director of Education added that sex education directives for school children would be reinforced in teaching children to protect their own body.
Training for police officers in dealing with victims of sexual offences
31. Members asked the Administration to elaborate on the types of training for front-line police officers in handling victims of sexual offences. Assistant Commissioner of Police (Crime) (Acting) said that the Police had a lot of training in the past 18 months in dealing with vulnerable victims of sexual assault and sexual abuse under the age of 17. Victims were dealt with by a joint team of SWD and Police from the outset. Officers responsible for investigating sexual offences would receive special training. However, he admitted that training for front-line officers who came into first contact with victims might not be of the same standard as that for officers responsible for investigating sexual offences. The Police also planned to extend to all victims of rape and sexual assault the facilities where victims could be handled, interviewed and medically examined outside Police premises. The number of suites would be increased from four to seven in the next 12 months.
The role of mass media in sexual offences
32. Andrew CHENG Kar-foo was concerned that there were views that media reports exaggerating sex and violence and programs with sex scenes did not affect the occurrence of sexual offences. He urged the Administration to conduct surveys to determine whether there was a relationship between the two and to counteract culture which would have bad influence on youngsters. He asked how the Administration could make the media more aware of its social responsibility.
33. Assistant Director of Education and Principal Assistant Secretary for Security(E) said that the Administration recognized the impact of the media and pornography culture. They said that it was important to help school children build up their own value judgement and analyse various kinds of messages in a critical manner. In this respect, ED had issued teaching materials on culture of pornography and the mass media to help children in judging pornography.
VI. Police Force service quality programme and anti- corruption strategy
(LegCo paper No. CB(2) 622/96-97(05))
Police reporting on police
34. Director of Management Services briefed members on the implementation of the Force strategies on quality service and anti-corruption. Members welcomed and expressed support to the Polices determination to change its culture and to improve service.
35. Mr Zachary WONG Wai-yin asked whether police officers would report on one another in cases of false allegations against citizens or corruption. He cited a case where more than a dozen of police officers fabricated evidence to falsely allege citizens and asked the Administration to provide breakdown of reports. The Chairman asked if it was the Polices culture to get rid of bad elements with determination.
36. Director of Management Services emphasized that the Police was determined to uphold the rule of law and would not tolerate or protect officers who were found to have committed any criminal offences. While Police did not have the overall figures on complaints lodged by police officers against fellow officers, he pointed out that incidents where officers reported on and prosecuted their colleagues were not uncommon. He undertook to provide figures on police officers reporting on other officers.
Procedures to monitor police conduct
37. Members considered a good monitoring system to prevent abuse of powers was needed to accomplish the change in Police culture. Mr Albert HO Chun-yan said that there were complaints about police officers using such charges as obstructing police work, resisting arrest or assaulting police to justify the use of unnecessary force against citizens. He noted that most of the charges resulted in acquittal and urged the Police to look closely on such cases to prevent abuse.
38. Director of Management Services explained that sometimes police officers were engaged in struggle with suspects to effect their arrest since criminals would not normally give themselves up easily and co-operatively. The Police had internal procedures to prevent any abuse of authorities or the use of excessive force. Any charges of obstructing police officers in the execution of their duties, resisting arrest or assaulting a police officer would normally be investigated by an Inspector of crime and scrutinized by a Chief Inspector before any prosecution would take place. District Commanders always paid special attention to such cases which were in fact monitored at all levels and even by the Commissioner of Police. Impartiality was the key word in carrying out such investigations.
39. Director of Management Services said that the reviewing of cases which were unsuccessful in prosecution was part of the Force current practice of monitoring. Remarks by the judges on the conduct of investigation and prosecution would be followed up. He undertook to provide members with internal guidelines on monitoring charges and reviewing unsuccessful prosecution. He and Principal Assistant Secretary for Security(E) added that the Polices strategy on service quality and anti-corruption was introduced after wide consultation and the values in the strategy were shared by individual officers. Effective channels were established for officers at different ranks and formations so that good practices would be promoted.
Report on travel to China
40. Members asked how the Police would deal with officers who gambled, called prostitutes or had ex-marital affairs during their visits to China. Members were concerned that police officers having such a life style would be susceptible to corruption and unlawful behaviour.
41. Director of Management Services said that all police officers were required to report their visits to China. Such reports would serve as a useful management tool. Force managements would discuss with a view to understanding officers reasons for having travelled to China very frequently and as such would be in a position to tackle any problems so identified through counselling or education. Supervisory officers would be alerted if their subordinates had travelled very regularly to China without any acceptable reasons with a view to monitoring their standard of performances. Officers who were found in breach of the code of conduct would be subject to disciplinary action.
VII. Close of meeting
42. The meeting closed at 1:30 pm.
27 March 1997
Last Updated on 21 August 1998