Following is the speech by the Speech by the Secretary for Security, Mrs Regina Ip, in moving the resolution on the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters (Italy) Order in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):
I move that the resolution to make the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters (Italy) Order be passed.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is fully committed to international cooperation in combating serious crime. In this connection, we have embarked on a programme to establish a network of bilateral agreements with other jurisdictions on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters. These agreements ensure reciprocity between the contracting parties and enhance international cooperation in the fight against transnational crime. We have so far signed eight agreements with other jurisdictions on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters. These include agreements with Australia, France, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Italy, the Republic of Korea and Switzerland.
The Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance ("the Ordinance") provides the necessary statutory framework for providing assistance in the investigation and prosecution of criminal offences, which includes the taking of evidence from witnesses, search and seizure, production of materials, transfer of persons to give evidence and confiscation of the proceeds of crime.
Pursuant to section 4(2) of the Ordinance, the Chief Executive in Council has made two Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Orders to implement the bilateral arrangements for mutual legal assistance in criminal matters with Italy and the Republic of Korea. These two Orders specify the scope and procedures in relation to the provision of assistance. They also provide for safeguards of the rights of persons involved in criminal proceedings. These Orders are substantially in conformity with the provisions in the Ordinance. However, as mutual legal assistance practices vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, it is necessary to modify some of the provisions of the Ordinance to reflect the practice of a particular negotiating partner. These are necessary to enable Hong Kong to comply with its obligations in a particular agreement. The modifications in respect of the Agreements with Italy and the Republic of Korea are summarized in the Schedule to each of these two Orders.
I would like to thank the Chairman, the Honourable James To, and other Members of the Subcommittee for their careful examination of these Orders.
End/Wednesday, January 19, 2000