Bill makes provision for video-link court evidence

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 August, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 August, 1994, 12:00am

LEGISLATION allowing evidence to be given in court via a video link will be tabled in the second half of the 1994-95 session, the administration has said in a paper to legislators.

The bill stems from a proposal, currently being studied by an inter-departmental working group, aimed at allowing mentally handicapped people to give evidence in court via a video link and in Cantonese.

The proposal was made in a report on how to make the legal system less hostile to the mentally handicapped.

The investigation was ordered after the trial of a man accused of raping a mentally handicapped woman was aborted when she became too distressed to give evidence.

The administration also plans to amend the Official Languages Ordinance in the first half of 1995 to enable Chinese to be used in the higher courts on a step-by-step basis - a move that would clear the way for the use of Cantonese in a trial involving mentally handicapped witnesses.

But legislators were concerned the steps would be too late - their term was due to expire next July and the new legislature might not be able to deal with the issue as quickly.

The administration said that in devising the system in Hong Kong, the working group had to ensure that it met the needs not only of mentally handicapped witnesses, but also of child witnesses and other ''protected'' groups.

The working group was studying the operation of video-link facilities in other jurisdictions and the next step was to estimate the costs of the scheme.

Under the recommendations, one court in the Supreme Court, the District Court and the Magistrates' Court would be provided with the necessary equipment.