Hong Kong officials to resume talks with mainland on detention notification system

Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok will lead a government delegation to Shenzhen for the second meeting with mainland officials on improving the protocol in the event a resident is arrested across the border

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 July, 2016, 9:49pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 July, 2016, 11:00pm

Hong Kong and Beijing officials will meet for the second time on ways to improve the mechanism to report the detention of local residents across the border in Shenzhen today, with the inclusion of all law enforcement agencies into the system expected to be on the agenda.

The first meeting, which was held on July 5 amid public outcry over the mysterious disappearance of five Hong Kong booksellers accused of selling banned books on the mainland, resulted in an agreement that the two sides would in future summarise the nature of allegations against residents held in either jurisdiction within 14 days, and that more agencies should be involved in the process.

Leung Chun-ying confirms Beijing talks over notification mechanism for Hongkongers detained in China

But pan-democratic lawmakers told the Post on Wednesday that Hong Kong officials must press their mainland counterparts to come clean on what happened to the five booksellers.

In a statement issued Wednesday evening, the government announced that Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok would lead a government delegation to Shenzhen for the second meeting with mainland officials on improving the notification mechanism.

The Hong Kong delegation is expected to meet vice minister of public security Chen Zhimin and representatives from the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office and other departments.

Also on the Hong Kong delegation include deputy police commissioner Wong Chi-hung, Commissioner of Customs and Excise Roy Tang Yun-kwong, Director of Immigration Erick Tsang Kwok-wai, ICAC assistant director of the operations Tong Wing-tak; and Department of Justice law officer Amelia Luk Siu-ping.

The delegation will return to Hong Kong Thursday afternoon (Jul 28).

Last year, booksellers Lam Wing-kee, Lee Po, and their three associates went missing in Thailand, the mainland and Hong Kong. The five specialised in publications critical of Beijing, , and later confessed to their role in the illegal business on state media.

Hong Kong ministers to head delegation in talks in Beijing on detainee notification system

But Lam turned up in Hong Kong last month and made explosive revelations that he was forced to confess during months of “mental torture”.

Democratic Party lawmaker Albert Ho Chun-yan said: “Mainland officials should tell us what happened to the five ”, adding that the information was never officially confirmed by mainland authorities.

“Secondly, they should tell us that in the event of a Hongkonger being detained in the mainland, could Hong Kong officials or a relative meet the detainee ... and thirdly, if cross-border law enforcement was involved in Lee’s case.”

Lee said he “smuggled” himself to the mainland last year even though he has a home return permit, with many drawing the conclusion he might have been kidnapped by agents.

Labour Party lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan also said it was more important for Beijing to explain what happened.

“If mainland authorities had ignored you in the past ... how can Hong Kong people expect improvement in the future?” Lee asked.

Lai and Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keunghad led a delegation of Hong Kong security officials to meet Minister of Public Security Guo Shengkun and his deputy Chen Zhimin in Beijing on July 5.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said a key achievement in that meeting was that both sides agreed to inform each other within 14 days if they detained the other’s residents for criminal investigation.

The existing mechanism covers five types of “compulsory measures”, such as detention and arrest, taken by four mainland agencies, including public security bodies and the Ministry of State Security.

But the system only requires notification as soon as practicable, without specifying a time limit. In Lam’s case, mainland authorities only notified their Hong Kong counterparts of the bookseller’s detention in February - four months after the fact.

Ho and Lee are running in New Territories West in the Legislative Council poll in September. Other candidates in the constituency include Ben Chan Han-pan, Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, Kenny Wong Chun-kit, Chan Ho-tin, Michael Tien Puk-sun, Leung Che-cheung, Wong Yun-tat, Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, Kwok Ka-ki, Alice Mak Mei-kuen, Andrew Wan Siu-kin, Raphael Wong Ho-ming and Tong Wing-chi.