LCQ15: Assistance to Hong Kong residents detained overseas

     Following is a written reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Ambrose S K Lee, to a question by the Hon Paul Tse Wai-chun in the Legislative Council today (November 17):


     Regarding the assistance provided by the Government for Hong Kong residents detained overseas for being involved in criminal cases, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) given that Hong Kong resident Mr Cheung Tai-on and two other Hong Kong people have been jailed in the Philippines for over a decade for having allegedly involved in a narcotics case and their trial has still not been concluded, what assistance the Government had offered in connection with this case in the past ten years;

(b) given that I have learnt that the Philippine authorities intend to conclude the trial of the case in (a) as soon as possible, yet Mr Cheung and his legal representative have indicated that they lack support and need assistance, whether the Government will take the initiative to follow up and offer assistance; and

(c) of the total number of cases received by the Government in the past three years of Hong Kong people being unreasonably detained overseas for having involved in criminal cases and requesting assistance to return to Hong Kong; which government departments or inter-departmental bodies had offered them assistance; and whether an assessment had been made on the actual effectiveness of such assistance; if so, of the results; if not, whether such an assessment can be made as soon as possible?



(a) and (b) The Hong Kong SAR Government attaches much importance to cases where individual Hong Kong residents are detained outside Hong Kong for a long period of time.  Since the receipt of the request for assistance, the Assistance to Hong Kong Residents Unit (AHU) of the Immigration Department (ImmD) has been working with the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China in the HKSAR (OCMFA) and the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines (the Embassy)for providing assistance to the subject.  The Embassy has liaised with the local judicial authorities on the case on various occasions, and has visited the subject.  Besides, the Embassy and AHU have been in contact with the subject and his family in Hong Kong, and reflected their wishes to the Philippine authorities on matters such as ensuring that the subject is provided with basic necessities and translation service during trial.

     OCMFA, the Embassy and AHU will continue to liaise closely with the subject and his family in Hong Kong for providing all practicable assistance to the subject.

(c) Since 2007, the number of assistance requests received by AHU on Hong Kong residents imprisoned or detained outside Hong Kong is as follows:

2007                         145
2008                         131
2009                         115
2010 (January to October)     89

     Upon receipt of assistance requests, AHU will, having regard to the nature and the circumstances of individual cases as well as the wishes of the subjects, provide practicable assistance like informing the subjects' families in Hong Kong of their detention.  For cases involving detention in the Mainland, AHU will work with the relevant policy bureau and departments (e.g. the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau, the Office of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in Beijing, the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Guangdong and Hong Kong Police) in providing assistance.  For overseas cases, assistance will be provided via OCMFA and the Chinese Diplomatic and Consular Missions (CDCMs).  The assistance rendered include approaching relevant authorities to reflect the wishes of the assistance seekers and making enquiries on case progress, and providing information on local lawyers and translators, etc.

     To conclude, when handling the assistance request, AHU will maintain close liaison with the subject, his/her family in Hong Kong, OCMFA, CDCMs and relevant government departments in rendering practicable assistance and taking appropriate follow-up actions.

Ends/Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Issued at HKT 15:40