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LCQ2: Police co-operation mechanism between Hong Kong and Mainland

     Following is a question by the Hon Alan Leong and a reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Lai Tung-kwok, in the Legislative Council today (January 27):


     On the sixth of this month, Global Times, a state-run newspaper of the Mainland, published an editorial entitled ¡§Hype and distortion of Hong Kong bookseller¡¦s co-operation with investigation¡¨.  When referring to the way by which a shareholder of Causeway Bay Books, who was reported missing last month, entered the Mainland, the editorial pointed out that ¡§powerful agencies across the world generally have their own ways to circumvent the law and make the person under investigation to work with them, so that they can proceed with their work without crossing the bottom line of the system¡¨.  There are comments that such statement aroused concerns that some mainland law enforcement officers had caused the missing person to enter the Mainland by using, in Hong Kong, ways which circumvented the law, and that such an act is a blatant breach of the ¡§one country, two systems¡¨ principle.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether it knows, in the past five years, if any ¡§powerful agencies¡¨ of the Mainland caused any Hong Kong people to enter the Mainland by using, in Hong Kong, ways of arrests, transport in custody or other ways which circumvented the law; if there were such incidents, of the details;

(2) whether it received requests for assistance from any ¡§powerful agencies¡¨ or other agencies of the Mainland in the past five years to facilitate their causing any Hong Kong people to enter the Mainland by using, in Hong Kong, ways of arrests, transport in custody or other ways which circumvented the law; if there were such incidents, of the details and the Government¡¦s responses to such requests; and

(3) whether it has made enquiries with the Central Authorities to see if the ¡§powerful agencies¡¨ or other agencies of the Mainland know whether any Hong Kong people entered the Mainland in the past five years by using ways which circumvented the law; if it has made such enquiries, of the replies received?



     The HKSAR Government does not use the term ¡§powerful agencies¡¨.  I also do not understand what ¡§powerful agencies¡¨ as mentioned by a media organisation refer to.

     The HKSAR Government attaches great importance to the cases of missing persons associated with a bookstore in Causeway Bay and fully understands the concerns of the community.  My consolidated reply to the Hon Alan Leong¡¦s question is as follows.

     With regard to the missing person cases, the Police have already commenced proactive and comprehensive investigation.  During the course of investigation, the Police have been maintaining contact with the families of the four missing Hong Kong residents.  The Police have also informed the families of the investigation progress and answered their queries.  At the same time, the Police have set up a 24-hour hotline 6764 4385 and appealed to the public to provide information related to the cases.

     In addition, the Police have been seeking assistance from relevant Mainland police co-operation units via the police co-operation mechanism.  On January 18, the Police received a reply letter concerning one of the missing persons, Mr Lee Po, from the Interpol Guangdong Liaison Office of the Guangdong Provincial Public Security Department, which states that Mr Lee Po is in the Mainland.  The Police have written to the Interpol Guangdong Liaison Office of the Guangdong Provincial Public Security Department on the same day, requesting to meet with Mr Lee Po and further understand the situation of the incident.  Afterwards, the Police were informed by the wife of Mr Lee Po on January 23 that she had met with Mr Lee Po at a guesthouse in the Mainland on the same day.  According to Mrs Lee, Mr Lee Po was healthy and in good spirits, and he was assisting in an investigation in the capacity of a witness.  After the meeting, Mr Lee Po asked her to pass on a letter addressed to the Hong Kong Police.  The letter¡¦s content was similar to previous letters penned by Mr Lee Po.  Mrs Lee did not disclose any further details regarding the location of the meeting and the nature of the investigation Mr Lee Po was involved in.

     The Hong Kong Police are now continuing to follow up on the case.  In order to obtain further details of the circumstances of the case, the Hong Kong Police have issued another request on January 23 to the Guangdong Provincial Public Security Department to assist in arranging a meeting between Mr Lee Po and the Hong Kong Police.

     President, since Hong Kong¡¦s return to China, the HKSAR Government has all along been dealing with matters relating to the HKSAR strictly in accordance with the principle of ¡§one country, two systems¡¨ and the Basic Law.

     The Basic Law only authorises law enforcement agencies of Hong Kong to enforce laws in Hong Kong.  Law enforcement agencies outside of Hong Kong, including law enforcement agencies of the Mainland and overseas, do not have the authority to enforce laws in Hong Kong.  If law enforcement officers of non-Hong Kong jurisdictions take law enforcement actions in Hong Kong, this will contravene Hong Kong laws and is unacceptable.  Except properly permitted under the laws, we shall not tolerate any unauthorised law enforcement action by anyone or any organisation.  For any suspected case of infringement, we will conduct full and thorough investigation.  I stress that the HKSAR Government acts according to the laws and would not allow or assist non-Hong Kong law enforcement officers to take law enforcement actions in Hong Kong.

     In addition, Article 28 of the Basic Law states that the freedom of the person of Hong Kong residents shall be inviolable.  No Hong Kong resident shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful arrest, detention or imprisonment.  Arbitrary or unlawful search of the body of any resident or deprivation or restriction of the freedom of the person shall be prohibited.  The HKSAR Government will, as always, continue to resolutely safeguard the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents in accordance with law.

     President, Hong Kong residents enjoy ample freedom of the press and of expression.  Commentary is all along a channel for the media to express opinion and such opinion represents a view.  The Police¡¦s investigation aims at finding out the truth, and the conclusion must be based on evidence and facts.  In respect of some formulation that Mainland law enforcement officers have taken such actions as ¡§arrest¡¨ or ¡§send under guard escort¡¨ etc in Hong Kong to bring someone to the Mainland, so far there is no substantive evidence to prove such formulation to be true and it is only speculation at the moment.  The Police have all along been acting strictly in accordance with the laws and abiding by regulations.  The Police would not give assistance to and tolerate illegal acts.  In respect of the missing person case of Mr Lee Po, the Police have already written to the Interpol Guangdong Liaison Office of the Guangdong Provincial Public Security Department to seek to meet with Mr Lee Po so as to further understand the situation.

      Before and after Hong Kong¡¦s return to China, the Hong Kong and Mainland police authorities have all along been engaging in co-operation using the mode of co-operation similar to that of international police co-operation laid down by the Interpol.  To ensure consistent implementation, police authorities of both sides conduct regular high-level meetings for regulating the basis and mode of co-operation.  When co-operation is undertaken, both sides have to strictly abide by the provisions of the relevant laws and respect the jurisdiction of the other side.  Under such co-operation, police officers of one side may visit the territory of the other side for investigation purpose.  However, any law enforcement actions must only be taken by the local law enforcement agencies in accordance with the law.  Under no circumstances can police officers of either side take enforcement actions in the territory of the other jurisdiction.

     During the course of case liaison between the Hong Kong Police and Mainland law enforcement agencies under the co-operation mechanism, if one party requires the assistance of the other party to conduct investigation, the requested party may gather information relevant to the case through legal means and provide such information to the requesting party.  When the requesting party makes request for assistance, it must give prior notification to the requested party and explain clearly the nature of the case and the scope of the assistance sought for the investigation.  It will then be for the law enforcement officers of the requested party to undertake the investigation work in accordance with the law.

      In the past five years, police authorities of the two places have made in total about 5 500 requests for assistance through the police co-operation mechanism.  The co-operation mechanism has been operating smoothly and effectively.  In the past, the Police have obtained useful information through the mechanism contributing to the investigation and even solving the cases, including cases about which the public is concerned such as serious wounding cases, drug cases and cases of robbery with genuine firearm etc.

     Thank you, President.

Ends/Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Issued at HKT 16:12


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