Move to tighten screws on arms deals

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 October, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 October, 1996, 12:00am

THE Government is to draft a law to provide tighter control of the arms trade.

The Trade and Industry Branch confirmed legislation was being considered to control the provision of services for illegal weapons deals.

Principal Assistant Secretary Selina Yan Mei-mei said the Government had to maintain the integrity of its strategic trade control system.

'The aim of the new law is to prohibit broking activities that will or may make a material contribution to the development, production, acquisition or stockpiling of weapons capable of causing mass destruction,' she said.

'There may be some commercial deals or arrangements before the shipment of illegal weapons, and we are now considering how we should control such activities,' she said.

Ms Yan said areas to be controlled under the new law would include any financial and commercial arrangements and consultancy services for the illegal arms trade.

It is understood that the new bill will be tabled to the Legislative Council in March.

Ms Yan said many Western countries, like the United States and Australia, had already enacted laws regulating support services for weapons smuggling. The Government is studying how such legislation should be adopted in Hong Kong.

Concern has been raised that the territory is becoming a relay point for military smugglers in Asia.

Two bomb parts and a missile launcher were seized in May at Kai Tak airport. Dragonair was fined $80,000 for illegally importing and delivering the goods.

Police are still investigating a case last month which involved the seizure of 18 containers of arms shipped from North Korea and bound for Syria.

The number of investigations has tripled over the past three years. There were 52 cases in 1993, 79 in 1994, and 163 last year. The Customs and Excise Department has investigated 112 cases this year.