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LCQ4: Combating terrorism

     Following is a question by the Hon Christopher Chung and a reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Lai Tung-kwok, in the Legislative Council today (July 8):


     It has been reported that the Police raided a bomb-making site and an arsenal last month, seizing large quantities of chemicals that could be used for making extremely lethal bombs, detonators, modified firearms, promotional leaflets, maps, etc. Some of the suspects involved in the case admitted that they belonged to an organisation called the "National Independent Party". The mission of the organisation is to strive to connect pro-independence groups and organisations in Taiwan with those in Hong Kong, so as to form a new "independent force". Some members of the public suspect that some Hong Kong pro-independence groups intend to achieve their goals by violent means. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) as there are comments that it is evident from the above incident that certain Hong Kong pro-independence groups have sufficient skills to make extremely lethal bombs with ordinary chemicals, of the counter measures that the Government has put in place; whether the Government will assess afresh the potential threats posed to the law and order of Hong Kong by Hong Kong pro-independence groups, and whether it will enhance the security measures implemented for various government buildings and premises;

(2) given that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has not yet, as required under Article 23 of the Basic Law, enacted laws on its own to prohibit, among others, acts of secession, whether the Department of Justice has studied if section 2(1)(c) of the Crimes Ordinance or other legislative provisions may be invoked to institute prosecutions against those people who openly advocate independence of Hong Kong, recruit members for Hong Kong pro-independence groups and take substantive actions to realise independence of Hong Kong; and

(3) whether it has conducted any investigation to see if any underground or online political groups advocating the use of violent means to stage political protests are currently committing offences under the United Nations (Anti-Terrorism Measures) Ordinance; if the investigation result is in the affirmative, whether it will apply to the Court for an order to specify the members of these organisations as terrorists and proscribe the relevant organisations?



     Our reply to the various parts of the question is as follows:

(1) Under sections 53, 54 and 55 of the Crimes Ordinance (Cap. 200, Laws of Hong Kong), any person who unlawfully and maliciously causes by any explosive substance an explosion, or has intent to cause by an explosive substance an explosion, or makes an explosive substance, shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction upon indictment to imprisonment for life, 20 years and 14 years respectively.

     In view of the recent developments, the Police have allocated resources and manpower to strengthen patrolling manpower in various police districts and to enhance enforcement actions to combat related crimes. Whenever suspicious persons or objects are spotted, members of the public should report to the Police under safe conditions. The Police have reiterated that disruption of social orders or jeopardy of public safety shall by no means be tolerated. Upon receipt of related reports or intelligence, the Police will spare no effort in launching investigations and taking determined enforcement actions to ensure public safety.

     As always, the Government makes risk assessments for government buildings and venues in the light of the actual law and order situation, and formulates corresponding security measures in a timely manner.

(2) The current-term Government does not have any plan to enact laws in respect of Article 23 of the Basic Law. All criminal investigations by law enforcement agencies (LEA) are conducted in accordance with the existing law in Hong Kong. Upon completion of a criminal investigation, the relevant LEA will submit an investigation report to the Department of Justice (DoJ). The DoJ will examine the case with reference to the law, the Prosecution Code and the evidence with a view to providing legal advice to the LEA, including whether further enquiries are required and whether any person should be prosecuted.

     Prosecutors should only initiate prosecution when there is cogent and credible evidence in support. According to paragraph 5.3 of the current Prosecution Code, prosecutors must, in each case, first consider whether there is sufficient evidence, and then take into account the public interest before making a prosecutorial decision. A prosecution should not be commenced or continued unless there is a reasonable prospect of conviction.

     In deciding whether or not to initiate prosecution against acts of persons or organisations alleged to have been involved in advocating "Independence for Hong Kong", the tests to be adopted by the DoJ are no different from those adopted in considering other criminal prosecutions.

(3) In accordance with section 2 of the United Nations (Anti-Terrorism Measures) Ordinance (Cap 575, Laws of Hong Kong) (UNATMO), a "terrorist" means a person who commits, or attempts to commit, a terrorist act or who participates in or facilitates the commission of a terrorist act, and a "terrorist associate" means an entity owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by a terrorist. Section 2 of the UNATMO also defines a "terrorist act" in detail. It is stipulated in section 5 of the UNATMO that the Chief Executive may make an application to the Court for an order to specify a person or group as a terrorist or terrorist associate, and in section 10 that a person breaks the law if he becomes a member or recruits another person to become a member of a body specified under section 5.

     I would not comment on individual cases or acts by any particular individuals or groups. The Police will seriously follow up and take actions as appropriate in accordance with the law if they have reasons to believe that a person or group has committed an offence stipulated in the UNATMO, or is a terrorist or terrorist associate as defined therein.

Ends/Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Issued at HKT 18:13


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