LCQ10: Assistance to Hong Kong people detained or sentenced in Mainland

     Following is a question by the Hon Paul Chan Mo-po and a written reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Ambrose S K Lee, at the Legislative Council today (February 8):


     In reply to my question on May 25, 2011 concerning Hong Kong people serving imprisonment sentences on the Mainland (imprisoned Hong Kong people), the authorities indicated that it had not received requests for parole from imprisoned Hong Kong people, and it also refused to disclose the progress of negotiation with the Mainland authorities on the mutual arrangement for the transfer of sentenced persons.  Some members of the public have since relayed to me that the Mainland authorities have in recent years set out the conditions for granting parole to imprisoned Hong Kong people, and in a prison in Nanjing, there was the first case of a person from Hong Kong, Macao or Taiwan serving imprisonment sentence on the Mainland successfully applying for parole.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether it knows the details of the aforesaid first case of parole granted to the person from Hong Kong, Macao or Taiwan (including the conditions for granting parole); if it does not know, whether it will take the initiative to enquire with the Mainland authorities, so as to obtain more exact information to facilitate its negotiation with the Mainland authorities on the mutual arrangement for the transfer of sentenced persons and reach an agreement as early as possible; if it will not, of the reasons for that;

(b) given that I have learnt that one of the aforesaid conditions for granting parole is that the relatives of the imprisoned Hong Kong people on the Mainland shall be the guarantors, but quite a number of Hong Kong people can hardly meet this condition as they do not have immediate family members who are Mainlanders, whether the authorities will, during the process of negotiation with the Mainland authorities, request for a review of that condition, so that those Hong Kong people in need can meet the conditions for granting parole;

(c) whether the authorities will, in response to the conditions for granting parole set out by the Mainland, consider assigning a relevant policy bureau or government department dedicated to handling the requests for assistance from Hong Kong people; whether they will, through the offices of the SAR Government on the Mainland, inform Hong Kong people who live and work on the Mainland of the conditions for granting parole, so that they are aware of their right to be granted parole if they are sentenced to imprisonment on the Mainland, and the Hong Kong people in need will know where to seek help; and

(d) of the latest progress of its negotiation with the Mainland authorities on the mutual arrangement for the transfer of sentenced persons, and whether there is a target timetable for reaching an agreement?



     According to the information available, there is no provision in the Mainland law that excludes Hong Kong residents from applying for parole.  The conditions of applying for parole are set under the relevant Mainland laws and regulations: a prisoner sentenced to a fixed-term imprisonment must have served more than half of his/her term, or a prisoner sentenced to life imprisonment must have actually served not less than 13 years, show repentance and has no risk of re-offending, etc.  No parole shall be granted to recidivists or criminals who are sentenced to more than 10 years of fixed-term imprisonment for certain serious offences.  The Mainland authorities will consider applications for parole in accordance with relevant laws and regulations.

     The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) is concerned about the legal rights of Hong Kong residents who are detained or sentenced in the Mainland.  Upon receiving requests for assistance from Hong Kong residents in the Mainland and their case information, the Beijing Office (BJO)/Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Guangdong (GDETO) of the HKSAR Government and 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 BJO/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 of appointment.  If the assistance seekers wish to apply for parole, the BJO/GDETO will relay such requests to the Mainland authorities.

     Under the principle of "one country, two systems", the HKSAR Government will not interfere with the law enforcement, judiciary and punitive systems of the Mainland.  Neither will the Government make public comment on or disclose the circumstances of individual cases.  Within this context, we have attempted to verify with the relevant Mainland authorities regarding the parole policies and arrangements specifically for Hong Kong residents as mentioned in the question.  The information concerned is yet to be confirmed so far.  Nevertheless, we will keep in view any new parole arrangements that may affect Hong Kong people serving imprisonment sentences, and will continue to communicate and liaise with the Mainland authorities to convey and reflect the requests of individual assistance seekers.

     The HKSAR Government and the Mainland authorities are still discussing the arrangements for transfer of sentenced persons between the two places.  Once a mutual agreement is reached, the Legislative Council will be consulted.  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.

Ends/Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Issued at HKT 16:49