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LCQ8: Transfer of Sentenced Persons


Following is a question by the Hon Bernard Chan and a written reply by the Secretary for Security, Mrs Regina Ip, in the Legislative Council today (March 13):

Question :

It has been reported that the son of the Nigerian Consul-General in Hong Kong, jailed for wounding an off-duty police officer in a Wan Chai bar, has been secretly released and transferred back to Nigeria to serve the remainder of his jail term. It has also been reported that Nigeria is not one of those places with which the Hong Kong Government has made arrangements for the transfer of sentenced persons under the Transfer of Sentenced Persons Ordinance (Cap. 513). In this connection, will the Government inform this Council of:

(a) the number of sentenced persons who were transferred back to their countries to serve the remainder of their jail terms, with a breakdown of the countries and reasons for granting such transfer; and

(b) the number of unsuccessful applications for such transfer, with a breakdown of the countries and reasons for refusal, in the past five years?


Madam President,

I would like first to explain briefly our policy on the transfer of sentenced persons (TSP), as this is necessary to clarify and put in proper perspective some of the points covered in the preamble to the Honourable Member's question.

Transfer of sentenced persons to their places of origin would enable the sentenced persons to serve out their sentences in a familiar environment which is free of language barrier and where it would be more convenient for their friends and relatives to visit them on a regular basis. This would be conducive to their rehabilitation. Our policy is to facilitate transfers of sentenced persons between Hong Kong and other places as far as possible. The Transfer of Sentenced Persons Ordinance (Cap. 513) (the TSP Ordinance) was enacted to provide the local legal framework to enable and govern such transfers. Any Hong Kong resident imprisoned in overseas countries or foreigner imprisoned in Hong Kong may apply for transfer. We deal with all transfer applications received in the same manner in accordance with the provisions of the TSP Ordinance.

Section 3 of the TSP Ordinance stipulates that an outward or inward warrant providing for the transfer of a sentenced person may be issued pursuant to any arrangements concluded between Hong Kong and the receiving or sending jurisdiction and subject to a number of specified restrictions.

For the purposes of section 3, the TSP arrangements between Hong Kong and another jurisdiction can be either a standing agreement covering all prospective applications in relation to that jurisdiction, or arrangements concluded on an ad hoc basis to cover a specific application as and when it arises. As the presence of a standing agreement can greatly expedite the processing of prospective applications, our policy is to negotiate and enter into such bilateral agreements with as many individual countries as possible. To date, we have signed seven bilateral agreements respectively with Italy, the Philippines, Portugal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, the UK and the US, and a negotiation programme covering many other countries is underway. In the absence of a standing agreement between Hong Kong and a given jurisdiction, ad hoc arrangements will need to be negotiated and concluded between the two sides each time a transfer application is received and processed.

The HKSAR Government would be able to effect the transfer of a prisoner into or out of Hong Kong provided that all the relevant requirements stipulated in the TSP Ordinance have been met, including the conclusion of TSP arrangements as required by section 3. As far as an outward transfer is concerned, we are prepared to conclude such arrangements if we are satisfied that the receiving jurisdiction will continue to enforce the remainder of the sentence imposed in Hong Kong after the transfer, that there are no public policy objections to the transfer and that the other requirements of the TSP Ordinance can be met. An application for transfer also requires the consent of the other jurisdiction concerned. The requirement that both jurisdictions consent is spelt out in the TSP Ordinance and our bilateral agreements. Obviously if there is a bilateral agreement in place, the expectation of the parties is that transfers will not be routinely refused. But equally it is accepted that there would be refusals. The processing of a transfer application depends on the efforts of both the sending and receiving jurisdictions, and the time required varies from case to case. There must be sufficient time to complete the whole process before the prisoner concerned is released from prison, otherwise the transfer will no longer be required.

For privacy reasons, it would not be appropriate for the authorities to comment on the transfer application of any individual prisoner.

Against the above policy background and with reference to the outward transfer cases since the enactment the TSP Ordinance in June 1997, my reply to the Hon Member's specific questions is as follows:

(a) We have transferred four prisoners to the UK and one prisoner to Nigeria, as all the requirements for transfer have been met in these cases.

(b) Information regarding outward TSP applications which were unsuccessful, and applications which are being processed, is provided at Annex.



Status/reasons for Jurisdictions Number of

applications being prisoners


------------------ ------------- ---------

Insufficient time to Australia 1

complete the processing Bangladesh 1
of the applications or Colombia 2

the negotiation of ad hoc Honduras 1

arrangements before India 1

discharge (or death, in Nepal 1

one case) of the Nigeria 2

prisoners concerned Pakistan 1

Peru 2

Philippines 16

Portugal 1

Thailand 1

UK 1

Vietnam 2

Unable to conclude Malaysia 2

satisfactory ad hoc Nigeria 8

arrangements or reach Pakistan 1

consensus on transfer Singapore 1

South Africa 2

Thailand 1


Applications being Bolivia 2

considered or processed Colombia 1

India 1

Indonesia 8

Lebanon 1

Nepal 1

Nigeria 1

Pakistan 1

Peru 1

Philippines 4

Thailand 1

Vietnam 11

End/Wednesday, March 13, 2002


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