Proposed Legislation for the Prevention of Child Pornography
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
2. Under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which applies to Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, children should be protected from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, including the exploitative use of children in child pornography and child sex tours. Formulating legislation in this regard will be a positive step forward in implementing our obligations under the Convention.
3. Although the problems of child pornography and child sex tours are not known to be very serious in Hong Kong, we must formulate legislation to provide adequate deterrent effect for preventing and checking any proliferation of paedophiliac activities.
4. Two rounds of consultation on the proposed legislation were carried out in late 1998 to early 1999 with concerned parties including non-governmental organisations, the legal profession, social welfare groups, Internet and journalist associations. The opinions received were in general supportive of the proposals to offer better protection to children.
The Prevention of Child Pornography Bill and the Crimes (Amendment) Bill 1999
5. The Prevention of Child Pornography Bill and the Crimes (Amendment) Bill 1999 were therefore prepared. The two bills aimed at offering better protection to children against child pornography and child sex tourism respectively. After their publication in the Gazette on 25 June 1999, they were introduced into the Legislative Council on 7 July 1999. Their main proposals were -
(a) criminalising the printing, making, producing, reproducing, importing, copying, distribution, publication, advertising and possession of child pornography, and procurement of children for making child pornography; and
(b)providing for extra-territorial application of certain existing sexual offences against children and prohibiting the arranging and advertising of child sex tours.
However, the bills lapsed on 30 June 2000 when the Legislative Council term ended then.
6. The opportunity has been taken to revise, mainly, the Prevention of Child Pornography Bill before re-introduction because, after the publication of the bills in the Gazette, there were criticisms that the definition of "child pornography" was too broad and the defence clause was inappropriate. We have since taken into account these comments and sought to refine the proposed legislation.
International Labour Convention No. 182
7. While the revised Bill was under preparation, the Administration was asked to consider if the International Labour Convention No. 182 (ILC 182), which was adopted by the International Labour Organisation in 1999, should be applied to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Its purpose was to prohibit and eliminate the worst forms of child labour.
8. The ILC 182 is an important and widely ratified international labour convention. Member States which ratify the ILC 182 shall take immediate and effective measures to secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour. Under the ILC 182, "child" applies to all persons under the age of 18 years and "the worst forms of child labour" comprises, among other things, the use, procuring or offering of a child for the production of pornography or for pornographic performances. The Administration considers that the ILC 182 should be applied to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region for the better protection of children. It is therefore important that we should impose sanctions on the procurement, use and offering of persons under the age of 18 for making pornography or for taking part in pornographic performances by including appropriate provisions in the revised Prevention of Child Pornography Bill (Please refer to paragraphs 16-19 below). The enactment of the proposed legislation will enable the HKSAR to comply with the ILC 182 and more importantly, to afford our children with adequate protection against exploitative use in pornography.