PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 May, 2012, 12:00am


Prosecution processes accountable

The article by Grenville Cross, the former director of public prosecutions from 1997 to 2009 ('Too hot to handle', May 4) needs correction.

As we have explained publicly on numerous occasions, the Department of Justice has long had in place established mechanisms to ensure that prosecution decisions are made fairly and impartially. Upon the relevant investigatory agency submitting a file for legal advice after completion of investigation, the evidence will be assessed as to whether there is a reasonable prospect of conviction and whether the public interest warrants prosecution.

In general, if there are sensitivities with regard to the matter or the person involved, delegating the prosecution decision to the director of public prosecutions or seeking independent advice from outside counsel, or both, are options available for consideration. This practice is consistently applied in all cases.

In the recent Independent Commission Against Corruption case involving a former principal official of the government, the department took the responsible action of making a public statement as to how we were to handle the case in order to avoid any possible perception of bias or improper influence.

It was stated that the secretary for justice had delegated to me the authority to handle the case and, if and when required, to consider whether any prosecution action is warranted. In view of the special circumstances of that case, it was considered that public interest would be best served by the issue of a prompt statement. This approach will appropriately be adopted in handling other cases with comparable sensitivities that may be submitted to this department. Emphasis will continue to be given to the transparency of our actions, as legitimately expected by members of the public, and as is appropriate in the circumstances of the case.

Ultimately, the success and effectiveness of a prosecution service will depend upon accountability and integrity in the prosecution processes and in the people who make up that service. Our prosecution system operates within a carefully calibrated framework, meeting not only key objectives to ensure independent control of prosecutions but also international requirements and standards. The issue really is about accountability and integrity. In this regard, the prosecution processes are subject to extensive scrutiny and made accountable at various stages and levels. The current arrangements are sanctioned by decisions of the highest courts and are designed to ensure robust accountability, transparency and fairness.

We, as public prosecutors, have an important public responsibility and our actions and conduct are in the service of the community we serve. We at all times function as independent prosecutors, committed to exercise our prosecutorial responsibility properly and openly and free from any interference as provided under Article 63 of the Basic Law.

Kevin P. Zervos SC, director of public prosecutions

Fighting for rights of mainlanders

I have been impressed by the actions of blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng , who has fought to defend the human rights of mainland citizens. Despite the difficulties he has faced, he has never given up.

He had a deep appreciation of the plight of mothers under the one-child policy and decided that he wanted to make a difference.

In any developed country, citizens are entitled to expect justice before the courts. Chen understands this and that is why he has tried to fight for citizens, despite the price he has had to pay in his personal life. He and his family have been harassed while under house arrest, but he persevered.

He would not have had similar experiences had he lived in Hong Kong where the rule of law is respected.

We should be proud of the freedom and rights we enjoy in this city and we should show our support for Chen.

If we do this and countries like the US also back him, then we have to hope that eventually our motherland will progress towards respect for human rights.

We can all learn from this man's patience and insistence on seeking justice for mainland citizens.

If you feel you are being exploited, it is always important to fight for your rights.

Jennifer Leung, Ngau Tau Kok

Pedestrians have right to walk on road

I refer to Peter Robertson's letter ('Pedestrians must stay on pavement', May 3).

As I understand it, people have the right to walk in public areas, including roads, except where entry is specifically banned, with a clear police sign, such as approaches to flyovers and motorways.

Crossing the road in an irresponsible manner is another matter, and so is driving without due regard to other road users, such as pedestrians.

Your correspondent referred to Stubbs Road. From my observations, most cars drive above the legal speed limit on that road.

Can our police enforce the speed limit stringently, especially with drivers going downhill?

Nigel Lam, Kowloon Tong

Many bars now ignore smoking ban

It has now been almost three years since the ban on smoking in pubs came into effect.

At first, it looked as though the law might be a success but, with the passage of time, I have noticed that the number of smokers in bars is almost back to the levels they were at before the law came into effect. In many cases the worst offenders are the bar staff themselves. Some pubs even give out empty soft drink cans to be used as ashtrays and warn smokers when police or Tobacco Control Office officials are in the area.

As an ex-smoker who benefitted in my struggle to quit from the introduction of the law, I now feel saddened that the government seems to have abandoned the law.

I think a crackdown must be carried out throughout Hong Kong to remind people that smoking is now banned.

Sometimes, as with the anti-littering laws, people will only start to take things seriously when they are hit in their wallets.

Gibson Wong Lok-tak, Sha Tin

Fares go up but service is no better

I think the government should have imposed tougher conditions on three bus companies before granting 10-year franchises.

These firms keep raising fares without making improvements to their services.

Buses are often late, which is very inconvenient for passengers, especially when they are in a hurry.

When it comes to deciding fare levels, these firms should recognise the importance of corporate social responsibility.

There are not enough concessionary fares for the elderly and long-distance commuters.

Concessions should be available most days to pensioners and regular long-distance travellers should be entitled to a monthly pass.

Cherry Lam, Ma On Shan