Transfer system

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 July, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 July, 2001, 12:00am

Kidnapping is a heinous crime, regardless of the identities of the victims and perpetrators. But it is doubly shocking and saddening when it involves an 11-year-old abducted with the alleged help of teenagers or even younger. Chan Chi-sin was reportedly seized by the gang on Wednesday and his body was found on Saturday. A 12-year-old girl, and two boys, aged 15 and 16, have been arrested in connection with the crime.

While they should of course be considered innocent until proven guilty, the mere fact these young people are being implicated should send alarm bells ringing. Everyone who cares about the healthy upbringing of our young people should see to it that similar cases do not happen again. Whether it involves enhancing outreach programmes to assist vulnerable youngsters or expanding training schemes to help them get employment, no resources should be spared to ensure they do not go astray.

Social implications aside, the kidnap of Chi-sin has demonstrated once again the urgent need for Hong Kong and the mainland to conclude a rendition agreement providing for the transfer of suspects or wanted criminals across the border.

Two Hong Kong residents - an 18-year-old man and a 28-year-old woman - and a 20-year-old mainland man have also been arrested by the Guangdong police over Chi-sin's kidnapping. While the mainland authorities are likely to return the two SAR residents to Hong Kong, as they usually do despite the absence of a rendition agreement, the mainlander will almost certainly be tried on the mainland.

That is less than ideal. First, Hong Kong should not depend on the goodwill of the mainland authorities to return wanted criminals and it should be able to reciprocate. Second, mainlanders involved in crimes in the SAR should also be tried here.

Unfortunately, the mainland authorities have shown, in the case of 'Big Spender' Cheung Tze-keung, who directed from the mainland the kidnapping of a businessman in Hong Kong, that they are prepared to try SAR residents in mainland courts for crimes committed here. They have also tried a mainlander for committing a crime in the SAR, as in the case of feng shui expert Li Yuhui, involved in the Telford Gardens killings.

For the families of the victims, that might have been the most expedient way to ensure justice was done, insofar as the culprits were tried, convicted and executed, and not allowed to exploit legal loopholes to remain at large. But in the overall interest of safeguarding one another's jurisdiction, both sides should try to overcome their differences and hammer out a proper rendition agreement.