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LCQ4: Assistance to Hong Kong residents serving sentences in the Mainland

     Following is a reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Ambrose S K Lee, to a question by the Hon Chan Mo-po in the Legislative Council today (May 25):


     Some members of the public have pointed out to me that Hong Kong people serving imprisonment sentences on the Mainland would not be given parole like mainland prisoners even if they behave well in prisons, as mainlanders could report to the local police at specified intervals after their release on parole, while Hong Kong prisoners applying for parole would be regarded as going back to Hong Kong afterwards and thus would not being able to report to the law enforcement agencies on the Mainland at regular intervals. Therefore, according to such members of the public, the terms of imprisonment served by such Hong Kong people will be much longer than those of mainlanders even if sentences of the same length are being imposed on them and they have behaved well in prisons. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether it knows the above situation and whether it knows that some Hong Kong people serving imprisonment sentences on the Mainland have expressed the wishes for parole; if it knows, how the Hong Kong Government handles and follows up those cases; and of the number of requests for assistance received by the Hong Kong Government in the past seven years in relation to applications for parole by Hong Kong people serving imprisonment sentences on the Mainland;

(b) whether it knows if the mainland judicial departments are prepared to respond to the wishes of such Hong Kong people; how the Hong Kong Government will follow up the issue and act in concert with these departments to enable those Hong Kong people who behave well in prisons to receive the same treatment as their mainland counterparts and be given parole; and

(c) whether it will consider proposing to the mainland judicial departments that Hong Kong people serving imprisonment sentences on the Mainland should be allowed to return to Hong Kong to report to the police stations in the territory instead after they are given parole, or they may stay temporarily on the Mainland and report to the mainland police at specified intervals, with a view to enabling these Hong Kong people to be reunited with their families as early as possible?



     Under the principle of "one country, two systems", the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) should not and would not interfere with the law enforcement, judiciary and punitive systems of the Mainland. Neither do the Mainland authorities interfere with the jurisdiction of the HKSAR in these respects. Hong Kong residents who are sentenced on conviction of any criminal offence in the Mainland should be dealt with in accordance with the Mainland laws and regulations.

     The HKSAR Government and the Mainland authorities have been discussing the arrangements for transfer of sentenced persons between the two places according to Article 95 of the Basic Law. Once a mutual agreement can be reached, the Legislative Council will be consulted and through the enactment of local legislation, Hong Kong residents serving sentences in the Mainland may then choose to serve their remaining sentences in Hong Kong, or be released under supervision in accordance with local legislation.

     In the meantime, we will continue to exchange views with the Mainland on providing assistance to Hong Kong people serving sentences in the Mainland.

     The HKSAR Government is very concerned about the legal rights of Hong Kong residents who are detained and sentenced in the Mainland. Since January 1, 2001, the Mainland and the HKSAR have put in place a reciprocal notification mechanism for cases involving unnatural deaths and imposition of criminal compulsory measures on residents from the other side, so that notification could be made as soon as practicable. Upon receipt of notification from the Mainland authorities, the HKSAR Government will inform the family members of the persons concerned as soon as possible so that they can consider whether to engage a lawyer or to seek other assistance through the HKSAR Government. The Mainland public security authorities and other relevant authorities have been offering active assistance and coordination, and the reciprocal notification mechanism has been operating smoothly. Since the operation of the mechanism in 2001 to the end of April this year, over 7 900 notifications involving more than 5 700 Hong Kong residents were made by the Mainland authorities to the HKSAR.

     In addition, upon receiving requests for assistance from Hong Kong residents in the Mainland and their case information, the Beijing Office (BJO) and the Guangdong Economic and Trade Office (GDETO) of the HKSAR Government as well as the Assistance to Hong Kong Residents Unit of the Immigration Department (the Unit) will provide appropriate assistance, having regard to the nature and circumstances of the cases and the requests of the assistance seekers. In general, on cases of persons detained in the Mainland, officers of the Immigration Divisions of BJO and GDETO or the Unit will explain to the assistance seekers the relevant Mainland legislation and criminal proceedings. Depending on the volition of the assistance seekers, our officers will provide the contact information of Mainland lawyers' associations for their consideration.

     We do not have any statistics or relevant information on applications for parole by Hong Kong residents serving sentences in the Mainland. Upon receipt of related requests for assistance from Hong Kong residents serving sentences in the Mainland, the BJO and GDETO will relay such requests to the Mainland authorities.

Ends/Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Issued at HKT 15:58


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