Security officials defend police emergency powers

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 October, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 October, 2002, 12:00am

The Security Bureau is defending moves to give police emergency entry and search powers while investigating some of the more serious national-security related offences under Article 23 of the Basic Law.

In a paper submitted to lawmakers yesterday, Security Bureau officials argue statutory provisions similar to those proposed in the consultation document on Article 23 legislation are already in place in Hong Kong and in many other common law jurisdictions.

Without naming offences which may warrant the creation of such new emergency powers for police, officials argue the existing general investigation powers 'may not always be adequate to cater for the special nature of some offences under Article 23 of the Basic Law'.

'We therefore propose that an emergency entry, search and seizure power should be provided to the police for investigating some Article 23 offences,' the government paper says.

Article 23 of the Basic Law states the SAR shall enact laws on its own to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion against the central people's government, or theft of state secrets.

Officials say that the emergency power should only be exercised by a sufficiently senior police officer, such as a superintendent, and if it satisfies three conditions: The senior police officer reasonably believes a relevant offence has been or is being committed; that evidence of substantial value to the investigation of the offence will be lost unless immediate action is taken; and the investigation of the relevant offence would be seriously prejudiced as a result.