HKSAR and Mainland sign new arrangements on notification mechanism (with photos/video)

     The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and the Mainland reached consensus on and signed the new arrangements on the notification mechanism today (December 14). The new arrangements on the notification mechanism will take effect on February 1 next year to replace the existing arrangements.

     The Chief Executive, Mrs Carrie Lam, and the Minister of Public Security, Mr Zhao Kezhi, witnessed the signing of the "Arrangements on the Reciprocal Notification Mechanism between the Mainland and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Relating to Situations Including the Imposition of Criminal Compulsory Measures or the Institution of Criminal Prosecution" (the New Arrangements on the Notification Mechanism) by the Secretary for Security, Mr John Lee, and the Director of the Office of Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan Affairs of the Ministry of Public Security (MPS), Mr Sun Lijun, in Beijing today.

    Other HKSAR Government officials in attendance included the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Patrick Nip; the Commissioner of Police, Mr Lo Wai-chung; the Director of Immigration, Mr Tsang Kwok-wai; the Commissioner of Customs and Excise, Mr Hermes Tang; the Director of the Chief Executive's Office, Mr Chan Kwok-ki; and the Assistant Director of the Operations Department of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, Mr Ken Ho.

     The notification mechanism prescribes that the governments of the two sides should notify each other of the criminal compulsory measures imposed on or the criminal prosecution instituted against residents of the other side, as well as the unnatural deaths of residents of the other side within their own territory.

     "The notification mechanism is an administrative arrangement to be implemented on the basis of mutual respect for the relevant laws of both parties. It will under no circumstances affect the legal rights enjoyed by and the legal obligations of the person against whom a criminal compulsory measure is imposed or criminal prosecution is instituted or those of his or her family," a government spokesman said.

     The following measures under the New Arrangements on the Notification Mechanism will improve the time frame and transparency of notifications:

(1) Notification time frame: For the first time, a notification time frame will be set under the new arrangements. Notification should be made within seven working days following the date of imposing criminal compulsory measures, instituting criminal prosecution or confirmation of the person's identity in unnatural deaths; not later than 14 working days for serious and complicated criminal cases; and not later than 30 working days for cases involving terrorist activities or suspected offences endangering national security. Both sides also agree that either party shall be free to make an enquiry if there is any item which has not been notified or if there is any doubt. The requested party should reply within 30 working days after the date of receipt of such an enquiry;

(2) Contents of notification: The contents of notification of the two sides will be standardised to include such details as the suspected offence committed by the person concerned and the relevant legal basis, the place where the criminal compulsory measure is imposed or detention is taking place, and the officer-in-charge of the case;

(3) Scope of notification: The new arrangements expressly require all agencies which are authorised to impose criminal compulsory measures on Hong Kong residents according to the laws of the Mainland, namely the public security authorities, the state security authorities, the customs and anti-smuggling departments and the prosecution authorities, to make notifications. As regards the scope of making notifications by Hong Kong to the Mainland, in addition to the existing law enforcement agencies including the Hong Kong Police Force, the Customs and Excise Department and the Immigration Department, the Independent Commission Against Corruption is newly added; and

(4) Notification channels: The Office of Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan Affairs of the MPS will be the Mainland notification unit while the Liaison Bureau of the Hong Kong Police Force will be the Hong Kong notification unit. However, notifications from the prosecution authorities will be made directly to the Hong Kong notification unit via the Office of Hong Kong and Macao Affairs of the Supreme People's Procuratorate. In addition, the Anti-smuggling Bureau of the General Administration of Customs, the Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Public Security and the Guangdong Provincial Public Security Department are authorised by the MPS to make direct notifications to the Hong Kong notification unit, thereby enhancing the efficiency of notification.

     The government spokesman said, "The HKSAR Government attaches importance to rendering assistance to Hong Kong people in distress outside Hong Kong. Since January 1, 2001, a notification mechanism has been established between the HKSAR and the Mainland with a view to enabling the HKSAR Government to inform the family members of Hong Kong residents subject to criminal compulsory measures imposed in the Mainland, and to provide appropriate assistance as soon as possible. As at November 30, 2017, since the implementation of the mechanism a total of 15 179 notifications had been made to Hong Kong by the Mainland.

     "In June last year, with a view to improving the notification time frame and its transparency, and to better safeguard the legal rights of residents of both sides, the HKSAR and the Mainland commenced discussion to review the arrangements under the notification mechanism. Under the guiding principle of 'one country, two systems', abiding by the Constitution, the Basic Law and the related laws of both sides, and based on the principles of 'steadfastly acting in accordance with the law, protecting human rights, identifying common and mutually beneficial grounds, and maintaining mutual support', the HKSAR and the Mainland agreed to revise and perfect various arrangements under the notification mechanism, including its time frame, content, scope and channel."

Ends/Thursday, December 14, 2017
Issued at HKT 15:00