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LCQ8: Combating human trafficking

    Following is a written reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Lai Tung-kwok, to a question by the Hon Dennis Kwok in the Legislative Council today (February 12):


    Section 129 of the Crimes Ordinance (Cap. 200) stipulates that a person who takes part in bringing another person into, or taking another person out of, Hong Kong for the purpose of prostitution shall be guilty of the offence of trafficking in persons to or from Hong Kong.  The recent cases of serious and egregious abuse of foreign domestic helpers have aroused concerns that the scope of this provision is too narrow as only human trafficking activities done for the purpose of prostitution will be caught by it.  In contrast, the Palermo Protocol under the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime defines human trafficking activities as those done for the purpose of exploitation and exploitation may take the form of "prostitution of others, sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery or similar practices, removal of organs or other types of exploitation".  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether it will draw reference from the Palermo Protocol, and review and amend the aforesaid provision of human trafficking; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(2) whether it will review and reform the investigation approach and prosecution policy adopted by the law enforcement authorities regarding human trafficking; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



    Hong Kong attaches great importance to combating human trafficking.  The Government has all along spared no effort in fighting the crime.

    As regards foreign domestic helpers (FDHs), like other residents in Hong Kong, they enjoy equal and full protection of our laws where applicable, including entitlements under the Employment Ordinance.  The Government does not tolerate any illegal acts and will take stringent enforcement and prosecution action against any malpractice.  Past cases of successful conviction of employers who abused their FDHs and the prompt enforcement actions taken against cases of suspected abuse against FDHs have proven the commitment of the Government and the strength of our laws in protecting FDHs.

    Our replies to the two parts of the question are as follows:

(1) Our legislation already provides a solid framework underpinning our robust efforts to combat human trafficking.  Most conducts collectively referred to as "trafficking in persons" in the Palermo Protocol are offences prohibited under section 129 of the Crimes Ordinance (Cap. 200), other relevant provisions under the Crimes Ordinance (Cap. 200) and relevant provisions under other ordinances, such as the Immigration Ordinance (Cap. 115) and the Offences Against the Person Ordinance (Cap. 212).  The prescribed maximum penalties of these offences on conviction range from 10-year to life imprisonment.  They are sufficiently stringent to deter and combat human trafficking.  

(2) Law enforcement departments (including the Police Force and the Immigration Department) work closely with relevant departments (including the Social Welfare Department, the Labour Department and the Department of Justice) on the enforcement, prosecution, prevention and victim support in human trafficking cases.  Last year, the Police Force refined its data processing mechanism to enhance analysis on reported and detected major criminal cases involving victims who are FDHs and offenders who are their employers.  Training for frontline Police and immigration officers was enhanced on both anti-human trafficking enforcement and victim identification.  Relevant guidelines were widely distributed to frontline Police and immigration officers conducting anti-vice operations as a checklist to enhance their awareness and capability in identifying victims during their course of duties.

    Moreover, law enforcement departments will continue to enhance cooperation with overseas counterparts on intelligence exchange, and liaison with non-governmental organizations and local consulates to strengthen prevention and victim support on human trafficking.

    As regards prosecution policy, the Department of Justice has included in the Prosecution Code 2013 published on September 7, 2013 a new paragraph entitled "Human Exploitation Cases" which sets out the instructions and approaches prosecutors should be taking in this area, mandates prosecutors to handle human trafficking cases with the necessary understanding, skill and sensitivity.  It specifically states that prosecutors can make reference to applicable international standards and practices concerning human trafficking victims.  The revised Prosecution Code would provide stronger linkage between the various laws and approaches in Hong Kong that are being used to combat human trafficking.

Ends/Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Issued at HKT 13:47


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