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Wednesday, July 6, 2016, 09:18

Mainland, SAR to improve police notification system

By Luis Liu and Shadow Li in Hong Kong

The central government and the Hong Kong special administrative region agreed to improve the crossborder police notification system after the first round of discussions on the issue in Beijing on Tuesday.

Amendments to the process under which central government authorities notify Hong Kong authorities when a Hong Kong resident is arrested or detained on the mainland, and vice versa, will focus on four areas. They will deal with the time frame under which notification is made, the information that both parties need to share, the range of cases that will be reported and the channel for notification. Such improvements are expected to better safeguard the legal rights of people from both sides, facilitate the fight against cross-border crimes and maintain social prosperity and stability, under the "one country, two systems" principle, according to both sides.

The meeting on Tuesday was arranged after Leung Chun-ying, the Hong Kong SAR's chief executive, wrote to the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council last month. He relayed the concerns of people in Hong Kong on incidents involving the arrest of Lam Wing-kee, the owner of a bookstore in Causeway Bay, and proposed reviewing the notification procedure.

Minister of Public Security Guo Shengkun said the central government has attached great importance to Leung's request.

Guo said mainland and Hong Kong police have experienced fruitful cooperation in law enforcement while meticulously following laws, regulations and institutional arrangements.

The SAR's Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwokkeung and Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok led the Hong Kong delegation. They expressed their gratitude to the central government and said they hoped the review of the process will take a frank and pragmatic approach.

The two-way notification process between mainland public security authorities and Hong Kong police has been in use since January 2001.

Under the process, the liaison officer of the Ministry of Public Security is responsible for notifying the Liaison Bureau of the Hong Kong Police Force upon the arrest or detention of Hong Kong residents by mainland public security authorities or customs authorities and the unnatural death of Hong Kong residents on the mainland.

In the past 15 years, the arrests on the mainland of 6,172 Hong Kong residents have been reported to the SAR government, while the SAR has reported the arrests of 6,934 mainland residents in Hong Kong.

Song Sio-chong, a professor at the Research Center of Hong Kong and Macao Basic Law at Shenzhen University, said the notification process has played an important role in safeguarding the public interest of both sides. However, uncertainties exist because the process is not mandatory, he added.

During Tuesday's meeting, more details came to light about the case of Hong Kong bookseller Lam.

Lam, 61, is suspected of illegal trading in books on the mainland, according to the public security authority in Ningbo, Zhejiang province.

Ningbo police said they tracked the books, which were banned on the mainland, to Lam and his girlfriend.

In October last year, Lam was arrested at the Lo Wu checkpoint in Shenzhen on suspicion of operating an illegal business and was put under residential surveillance. Lam was released on bail in March 21 this year.

He was allowed to return to Hong Kong in June. After his return, he claimed he was detained illegally and tortured by mainland law enforcement officers. He also claimed that he refused to go back to the mainland.

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