Principles of handling cross-boundary crimes (Translation)

The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) has always adopted the following principles when handling cases involving cross-boundary crimes:

(1) Every individual, regardless of the jurisdiction he or she is in, should respect the local laws and be responsible for his or her action, including legal liabilities;

(2) It is a well-recognised basic legal principle that each jurisdiction shall handle any illegal acts in accordance with its laws; and

(3) For any Hong Kong resident who is suspected of breaching the law outside Hong Kong, regardless of his or her background, the Government will provide feasible assistance to him or her having regard to the actual situation and under the principle of respecting the local judicial system.

The Mainland public security authorities notified the Hong Kong Police on August 28, according to the Reciprocal Notification Mechanism, of the arrest of 12 Hong Kong residents in Mainland waters on August 23. They are suspected of illegal entry into the Mainland and are being handled in accordance with the law. The Police had already informed their family members of the incident, while the Assistance to Hong Kong Residents Unit (the Unit) of the Immigration Department (ImmD) as well as the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Guangdong (GDETO) contacted those family members to provide assistance. The assistance provided included explaining the relevant laws and regulations to the family members, and reminding the assistance seekers to consider free legal consultation services provided by a Hong Kong organisation in the Mainland commissioned by GDETO. If there is any need on medication, they can put forward the request in writing and the ImmD will relay the request to relevant authority. In the evening of September 11, one family member expressed wishes to obtain proof of relationship for appointing lawyer. The ImmD issued a certificate the next morning, shortening the procedures which normally take 25 days.

According to the available information, these 12 persons were suspected of being involved in seven cases in Hong Kong. Among them, ten were charged by the Police with serious offences including “making or possession of explosive”, “arson”, “conspiracy to wound”, “riot”, “assault on police officer”, “possession of offensive weapons” and “possession of instrument fit for unlawful purpose". They were released on court bail pending trial, with the condition not to leave Hong Kong. Another person was arrested by the Police for suspected violation of the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in relation to collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security, as well as offences under the Crimes Ordinance and “possession of ammunition without licence”. The person concerned was released on Police bail subsequently on the conditions of handing out the travel document, not allowed to leave Hong Kong and reporting to the Police. The other person is wanted by the Police for suspected “making or possession of explosive”. All these 12 persons left Hong Kong by unlawful means and were arrested in Mainland waters.

The Shenzhen Municipal Public Security Bureau issued a statement yesterday, stating that the Guangdong Coast Guard Corps seized 12 persons crossing the boundary illegally on August 23. The 12 persons concerned are suspected of illegally crossing the border (boundary) and are subject to criminal detention compulsory measures by the Public Security Bureau in accordance with the law. The statement clearly stated that the case is under investigation and the public security authorities will safeguard the legal entitlements of the criminal suspects as provided under the law.

At the same time, I am aware that five Hong Kong residents were reported on the news to have been arrested upon arrival in Taiwan via Dongsha Islands two months ago and have been detained for two months already. In this regard, the HKSAR Government has not received any notification from Taiwan, nor any requests for assistance from the family members of the concerned persons. We call on Taiwan to take responsibility for combating cross-boundary crimes, and not to harbor anyone who are suspected to have committed crimes in Hong Kong. We look to Taiwan to send them back to Hong Kong after dealing with them in accordance with the law, so that HKSAR can handle the cases in accordance with the law. The Hong Kong Police have already made enquiries to the Taiwan side about the situation and are awaiting its reply.

Since last year, people with ulterior motives, including politicians, acquiesce to, glorify, support or encourage violence for their own political interests or agenda. Some others collude with external elements and commit acts that endanger the national security. Some even advocate disobedience to law, resulting in many people being arrested and prosecuted after involving in illegal activities.

I wish to reiterate again that any person who breaches the law will need to bear the legal responsibilities. Knowingly face the consequences is far better than absconding with fear of crime for life.

The HKSAR Government does not wish other jurisdictions to interfere with HKSAR’s law enforcement. We will therefore respect and will not interfere with the law enforcement of other jurisdictions. Regarding the 12 Hong Kong residents suspected of illegally crossing the border (boundary), the Hong Kong Police will continue to liaise with the Mainland authorities for the development of the case. The ImmD will also maintain communication with the family members of the arrestees and follow up on the incident.

The Secretary for Security, Mr John Lee